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Gameskraft, a little-known company dabbling in real-money gaming, real-money gaming, Real-money gaming RMG means the offering, distribution, advertising, promotion, and sale of any type of game played through online media in which real money is wagered on the outcome of the game has been raking in the money. Set up in 2017, the startup had already made profits of Rs 200 crore ($25 million) in the year ended March 2020.

There was no venture capital funding to back it up, yet it managed to reach that level within three years of its existence. But even with such profitability, the company’s senior executives had a critical problem staring at them nearly from the beginning: hiring.

Two years ago, while trying to fill various positions, executives realised that almost none of the interviewees had heard about the Bengaluru-based company.

The company is now doubling down on its financial position. Its net profit rose over 220% to Rs 740 crore ($93 million) in 2021 itself. This is more than twice that of industry behemoths like Dream11 and Play Games24x7. 

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What’s ironic is that Rummyculture, a Gameskraft-run app where users can play the 13-card game called Rummy and win cash, is very popular in India, with over 20 million users. Several executives in the wider real-money gaming (RMG) industry also attested to the app’s appeal.

Most things are going well for Gameskraft in 2022, but a former employee blamed the hiring problem in 2020 on “atrocious employee-facing public relations (PR),” concluding that “outside of the gaming sector, no one knew us”. The employee requested not to be identified because they did not want to comment on Gameskraft publicly.

Besides the hiring and PR issues, Gameskraft, by design, has kept a deliberately careful, low profile over the past few years. Its executives rarely give interviews to the media. Unlike its venture capital (VC)-backed RMG rivals—Dream Sports and Mobile Premier League—the company hasn’t spent much on wide-reaching TV ads.

Gameskraft has been running a different race to get a pie of the Indian online card-gaming market- worth a staggering Rs 4,000 crore ($500 million) according to professional services firm EY. The other big players in the fray include 16-year-old Play Games24x7’s Rummycircle and 10-year-old Junglee Games’ JungleeRummy—both claim to have roughly 30 million players each. 

But, as always, there is a catch.

Thanks to India’s long-standing anti-gambling laws, the industry is also fraught with many legal and regulatory uncertainties. For instance, gamers in six states such as Telangana and Odisha cannot play rummy with real money.

AUTHOR

Soumyajit Saha

Soumyajit covers the operations of Big Tech companies and OTTs in India. Before The Ken, he covered equity and currency markets in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand for Reuters. You can hit him up via email about anything, except money he allegedly owes you.

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