IGDC founder Rajesh Rao departs after 15 years and announces successor

“I will still be around, but it is time for the torch to be handed over."

IGDC founder Rajesh Rao departs after 15 years and announces successor

After more than 15 years spearheading the India Game Developer Conference founder Rajesh Rao has announced that he will be stepping down from his role, passing the mantle down to a new successor.

Rao first founded Dhurva Interactive in 1997, India's oldest games company which was later acquired by Starbreeze Studios in 2016 for $8.5 million. Two years later, Grand Theft Auto makers Rockstar Games acquired Dhurva from Starbreeze for $7.9 million which now operates alongside Rockstar India.

In his LinkedIn post, Rao acknowledged the success of the recent 15th edition of IGDC which he describes as, “The biggest ever". After more than 4,000 attendees graced the venue with 150 sessions and 274 speakers, this year's edition, “Was truly phenomenal," said Rao.

After joining Nasscom in 2018 to launch a Gaming Forum, Rao was committed to solving the struggles of, “A nascent industry starved of capital and talent," as he went on to hold the first NGDC, a one-day event that had about 100 attendees.

“It was tough to convince international speakers, but anyone who had any contacts worked hard and got the likes of Ed Fries, Glen Schofield, Trip Hawkins, Yasuhiro Fukushima, Ernest Adams and Mark Skaggs to come as keynote speakers, and that helped a great deal," said Rao.

Passing the torch

“From the beginning, I had wanted the conference org to be very decentralized, giving space for everyone to do their thing, and that's what we did. IGDC is unique for being truly ‘for the industry and by the industry' run by volunteers from the industry working tirelessly year on year to put the conference together with the only intention of helping the Industry grow."

As he makes his departure, Rao says IGDC is in a good place with Sridhar Muppidi set to take over from Rao. Machaiah Kalengada continues to manage all operations alongside a core team of around 35 people. “My role was to just get good people involved and then get out of their way," he said.

"Now, after helming this for 15 years, it's time for me to move on, happy in the knowledge that we have built a solid platform that is playing a pivotal role as a conduit and a catalyst to the game developer ecosystem in India," Rao concludes. 

Staff Writer

Isa Muhammad is a B2B writer and video games journalist with 5+ years experience covering games, interviewing industry professionals, tracking industry trends and understanding the market.