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A year after its launch, Krafton’s popular game — Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) — has crossed 100 million users in India. For Krafton, the first year of the pandemic (2020) came with its own set of challenges in India. This was the time when her game PUBG: Mobile, which was launched in the country in partnership with Chinese tech giant Tencent, was banned. However, Krafton is back with its new property BGMI, which was launched in July 2021. The success of BGMI along with changes in consumer behavior are some of the reasons why Krafton is now taking the Indian market more seriously.
But according to Anuj Tandon, Head Corporate Development, Krafton, India, Middle East and North Africa, it’s not just about downloads and users, the biggest change is that Indian users are now spending more on in-app game purchases.
“It felt that in-app purchases, people buying multiple skins and stuff, were not happening in India. But by 2021, at least four to five games in India would earn more than $100 million through in-app purchases annually. That was unheard of three to four years ago,” Tandon told indianexpress.com over phone.
In his opinion, 2021 was the year when the market passed a very important turning point in the field of mobile games. “People are appreciating in-app entertainment as a legitimate form of entertainment and have started investing in it. This will also attract many global companies to think more seriously about this market,” he added. This change is critical because before the pandemic, India was mostly seen as a download farm rather than a farm where consumers were likely to spend on the game itself.
This increased gaming spending is also why Krafton didn’t limit themselves to just their own BGMI title. Rather, it has invested in other Indian companies related to the gaming and media and entertainment industries. In the past one-and-a-half years, the company claims to have invested more than $100 million in India.
“We feel there is a lot of white space in interactive entertainment and media entertainment lending, typically involving video games, eSports and the technology platforms that enable it. We feel that there is not enough investment in the space,” explained Tandon.
Krafton has invested in gaming companies such as Nautilus Mobile – publisher of the game ‘Real Cricket.’ Krafton has also invested in Bengaluru-based gaming studio Leela Games. It also has investments beyond the traditional gaming setup, including investments in gaming-related companies such as Nodwin, an Esports event company, and Loco, a video game live streaming platform.
“When we invest in game companies, our criteria for investing in games becomes particularly strict. We can rate those companies much, much better. eSports is what we called post-game community engagement and rewards, which is very important for multiplayer games. Loco is a dedicated game streaming platform and I believe over 50 percent of the streaming that happens on it comes from BGMI. Both these market segments are only poised for growth,” Tandon said, explaining the rationale behind some of these investments.
From Krafton’s point of view, India will be a critical market in terms of revenue in the near future. He also highlighted how gaming live streaming can grow even though right now YouTube is still a prominent platform in India. “I personally believe that streaming as a business, especially for esports and gaming, is poised for at least 2x to 3x growth in the next year or two,” he emphasized.
Asked if Krafton intends to look at Web3 games as well, Tandon said the company plans to invest in “deep tech AI companies in India” where it sees synergy with its gaming portfolio. “As a company, we will do some experiments to explore them, but (we will) stick to our core beliefs – we are very good at creating games and IP (intellectual properties). That is our strength,” he said.
He added that the main problem with Web3 games right now is that games feel more like work than fun, given the emphasis on play-to-earning. “I think the second wave is when you see much broader and larger use cases develop for them,” he noted.