Nazara invests Rs. 83.5 crores in preschool edutainment app Kiddopia

Online gaming and sports media company Nazara Technologies Limited has announced that it has made an investment of Rs. 83.50 crores in Paper Boat Apps, the creator and publisher of Kiddopia, a subscription based preschool edutainment app.

With the closure of the transaction, the company will acquire a majority stake of 51% in Paper Boat Apps Private Limited at a pre-money valuation of Rs. 154 crores. The deal is subject to shareholders approval and customary closing conditions including any other regulatory approvals.

Kiddopia offers a wide array of interactive games and activities that foster cognitive development, self-expression and also social-emotional learning, for a subscription fee and has seen over 2.5 million downloads till date and currently has over 100,000 active subscribers.

Commenting on the transaction, Anupam Dhanuka, co-founder & CEO of Paper Boat Apps Pvt. Ltd., “The leadership at the two companies have very similar DNA and our goals are well aligned. This investment will help us grow our team, strengthen our market share in the US and expand to other high value markets such as Latin America, Europe and Japan. We also plan to leverage Nazara’s existing network of users to quickly grow in India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.”

Nitish Mittersain, founder and Managing Director of Nazara Technologies Ltd. noted,“Kiddopia addresses the concern where young children are found to consume digital content through their parent’s devices. Kiddopia offers a positive alternative while bringing high quality, curated educational content packaged within an entertaining framework that keeps both kids healthy and parents happy. Kiddopia will be leveraged to over 100 million users through the Nazara network.”

In the past few months, Nazara has been on an acquisition spree, with the company recently acquiring majority stakes in sports news portal Sportskeeda, fantasy gaming platform Halaplay and real money quiz app Qunami.


India Game Developers Conference to be held in Hyderabad on 22-23 November

The 11th edition of the India Game Developers Conference (IGDC), supported by the Government of Telangana and tech industry body NASSCOM is scheduled to be held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre in Telangana on 22nd and 23rd November, 2019.

The flagship event is expected to showcase the latest developments in the game industry of the Indian subcontinent and debate new trends.

The two-day event, beginning on November 22, will also discuss the inventiveness in the functions and contents in the digital entertainment industry in India.

The organisers stated the IGDC continued to attract big attention from global gaming studios, developers and gaming enterprises.

IGDC will host more than 3,000 industry professionals and 200 industry expert speakers, major tracks and will feature 10 major events, 200 expo stalls, 25 publishers and 25 investors. It will also host an exhibit for games companies across India, including their popular IGDC Awards ceremony in seven categories.

“The industry is maturing and we believe IGDC continues to be the must-attend conference to catch the latest trends, market intelligence, success stories, upskill with great talks and workshops, meet investors and of course everyone in the Indian gaming ecosystem will be there, presenting excellent networking opportunities,” said Rajesh Rao, Chairperson, India Game Developer Conference and Founder and former CEO of Dhruva Interactive.

The congregation will build, consolidate and further game advancements, smart entertainment software and hardware animation, comic, internet e-Sports, new-age entertainment and other digital entertainment in India, and establish itself as a trend indicator for the gaming ecosystem and digital entertainment industry in India.

Among the big takeaways for the participants this year will be Android, Augmented Reality, iOS, PC, Steam, Virtual Reality, and Windows gaming and development and new trends.

According to a KPMG report, esports and gaming are expected to add revenues of over $1 billion by 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 per cent.

Locally developed games picked up big numbers of daily active users. Designing and exporting games too hold a great promise with an estimated annual global market of $1.7 billion within a few years, the organisers said in a press release.


GamingMonk raises strategic investment from listed Japanese gaming company

Esports startup GamingMonk has raised a US$ 100,000 (around Rs. 70 lakhs) strategic investment from listed Japanese gaming media GameWith. As per a statement issued by the company, the strategic partnership is expected to build on synergies, support and collaboration for the Indian gaming industry.

The funds given by GameWith will be used for product development, team building and brand marketing, the company stated. GamingMonk however did not reveal the valuation at which the round was closed or the stake that will be held by GameWith.

Commenting on the partnership, Takuya Imaizumi, CEO of GameWith, Inc., said, “The gaming industry in India has strong growth potential and GamingMonk, led by a strong management team, is well-positioned to further benefit from industry trends. We are excited about the company’s growth prospects and proud to have this opportunity to support the journey.”

“There are exciting times ahead for the gamers in India. GameWith brings a lot on board with their experience and leading position in the Japanese market. Their insights will help us in building a better product for the Indian gaming market” added Abhay Sharma, co-founder of GamingMonk.

In October last year, GamingMonk had raised Rs. 4 crores in a seed funding round that saw participation from Japan-based Incubate Fund; Rajan Anandan (Vice President of Google India and South East Asia);  Stellaris Ventures; Smile Group; AdvantEdge fund; Samir Khurana and others.

Founded in 2014 by Abhay Sharma and Ashwin Haryani, GamingMonk provides a platform for esports players to competitively engage in esports tournaments, both through their website and through offline events. The platform currently allows players to compete with one another in games like PUBG, Fortnite, Fifa 2019 and Counter Strike.

The website also provides news and content relating to the esports industry and markets various gaming related products.


IAMAI announces GATO gaming awards, nominations now open

Premier industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has announced the inaugural edition of GATO awards that will be presented at the second edition of the’Gaming for Tomorrow’ (GATO 2.0) conference which is scheduled to be held on 24th April, 2019 at The Leela Ambience in Gurugram.

IAMAI has announced that it would be handing out awards to eight categories of top performing Indian gaming companies as given below:

  • Best Gaming App
  • Best Live Game
  • Best Fantasy Game App
  • Best Card Game on an App
  • Best use of AR/VR in a Game
  • Emerging Indian Gaming Company
  • Best Affiliate Partner for Gaming
  • Best Mobile Ad Network for Gaming

Further, the mobile association is accepting nominations for games which were active in the Indian markets anytime between 1st April 2017 to 31st March, 2019.  The last date for submitting nominations for entries is 28th March, 2019. Entries can be submitted through the GATO event webpage by paying an entry fee of Rs. 1,180/- and filling out the nomination form.

Besides the award ceremony, the day-long GATO 2.0 event is scheduled to have several panel discussions and presentations on various topics concerning the gaming industry including games of skill, social and casual gaming, gaming technology and esports.

The first edition of Gaming for Tomorrow was held in December 2017 and saw participation from top executives of various gaming companies such as Adda52, Taj Rummy, Winzo Games, Ace2Three and VCommission, among others.


India ranks fifth among top mobile gaming markets as per latest study

India is breaking trends in the gaming industry by ranking fifth among top markets for mobile gaming in terms of users. India has, so far, not shown this trend in PC games or gaming console markets.

In a report recently published by a leading  mobile advertising platform, POKKT, India ranked fifth among top mobile gaming markets, as of 2017.

Over 22.2 crore gamers in India (assuming they are unique users, it is 16.5% of the 133.9 crore population of India in 2017) actively spend average 42 minutes per day on mobile games, as per POKKT report-based article published on Lateslty. The daily time duration is spent over average five sessions in a day.

This trend is expected to take the annual mobile gaming revenue in India up to USD 943 million in 2022.

The factors contributing to this trend are increasing demand of smartphones and availability of cheap mobile data in India. For example, entry of Reliance Jio in the telecoms industry has contributed substantially to bringing down data prices, that has given a boost to the mobile application ecosystem in India. This trend trend has resulted in increasing mobile data usage in mobile gaming industry.

Rohit Sharma, who founded the platform POKKT, says, “As much as 89 per cent of all game revenues in India were generated by mobile games… These gamers are highly engaged; almost one-third play five days per week or more, and nearly 40 per cent spend more than six hours per week playing mobile games.”

The top three mobile games played by Indians, as per the report, are Ludo King, with over 10 million active users, Subway surfers with over 5 million daily active users (DAU), and Temple run with about 2.5 million DAU.

The demographics of the 22.2 crore mobile gamers in India are broken down into four major audience profiles—males of age 15 plus, females of age 15 plus, mother, and kids.

The first two segments, i.e. male 15+ and female 15+ account for 3.8 crore and 2.14 crore users per month, respectively.

Each category of users display different gaming behaviour in terms of sessions per day and time spent playing mobile games every day. Male 15+ play four to five sessions of 10 to 20 minutes each, per day; female 15+ and mothers play seven sessions every day of 8 to 12 minutes each, and, lastly, kids play four to five sessions a day of 10 to 15 minutes each.


Sequoia Capital & others invest $5 million in skill gaming mobile app MPL

Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital has led a US$5 million (around Rs. 35.1 crore) Series A funding round in Galactus Funware Technology Pvt. Ltd., the company that operates digital skill gaming startup app Mobile Premier League (MPL).

As per an exclusive report in VCCircle, Sequoia Capital led the funding round and some other existing angel investors also participated in the exercise. The funds will be used by MPL to expand its operations and build its product.  The valuation at which the company received the funding has not been revealed.

Founded by technology entrepreneurs Sai Srinivas Kiran Garimella and Shubham Malhotra, MPL allows users to participate in tournaments of various skill games such as fruit chop, monster truck, space breaker, sudoku etc.

Users are awarded real cash for winning the tournament and winners can immediately cash out their prizes through Paytm, UPI or bank transfer.

MPL claims to be the largest real-money mobile e-sports platform in the world and according to Google Playstore, the MPL app has been downloaded more than 1 million times.

At present, users can participate in the MPL tournaments using tokens and it is understood that players do not have to deposit own entry fees to participate in the games, although it is not clear whether this would continue be the business model of the company, going forward.

Apart from mobile games, several other startups have started offering real money quiz contests and other puzzle-based games for real money under the skill gaming category. In 2014, Sequoia Capital had invested around $15 million in a Series A funding round in  another mobile teenpatti and social gaming company, Octro.

Business Gaming

Nazara Technologies likely to acquire real money gaming companies in India and Africa; IPO plans delayed

Popular social gaming and e-sports company Nazara Technologies Limited is likely to acquire multiple companies in the real money gaming space in the Indian and African regions, Economic Times reports.

As per press reports, Nazara has earmarked around Rs. 50-75 crores for acquiring real money gaming companies in the two regions where it is the strongest. It is learnt that the company is in late-stage discussions with the target companies and the transactions could be closed as early as end of this month.

The company has already invested in fantasy sports portal Halaplay and has, in the past, evinced an interest in starting real money card games like poker, teenpatti and rummy. Besides Halaplay, Nazara has also invested in other games and e-sports companies like NODWIN, Mastermind Sports, Moong Labs and Crossgate Solutions.

It is also learnt that Nazara’s plans of raising Rs.1,000 crore by getting an exit to its existing investors through an IPO has been delayed and the process is expected to commence only next year despite receiving an approval from SEBI to its Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP), six months ago, in April this year.

Representatives from Nazara Technologies declined to give any response or further details about the mode of the proposed acquisition to Economic Times.


Paytm, AGTech infuse $16 million in new skill gaming company Gamepind

Indian payment services company Paytm and Alibaba-backed Chinese technology company AGTech Holdings Limited have infused US$ 16 million into their new gaming venture, Gamepind Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

As per a joint statement by the two companies, AGTech will be holding 45%  stake in the gaming platform while One97 Communications Ltd. (parent company of Paytm) will be holding a 55% stake.

The new company has named former Paytm Vice President Sudhanshu Gupta as its Chief Operating Officer. The new venture has so far been operating as part of the Paytm portal and a standalone app will be launched with the new infusion of funds.

“With the penetration of smartphones and mobile internet, gaming is poised to become a multi-billion dollar opportunity in India and I feel very excited to be a part of this journey. We will invest in building a platform to offer exciting and rewarding games for our users”, said Gupta in a telephonic conversation with Mint.

Launched in January 2018, Gamepind currently offers real money  and casual trivia quiz contests but it is believed that the company plans to start offering a wide array of social and real money games, including possibly card games like rummy and poker.

“AGTech continues to firmly believe in the vast potential of Gamepind and its ability to capture the fast growing mobile games market opportunity in India. Going forward, AGTech will continue to strengthen our business in India, while globalizing our business in other selected overseas markets,” said GM Cheng, director, Gamepind and President of Global Market at AGTech in a statement.


Times of India Group launches new fantasy sports and quiz apps

Times Internet Limited, a subsidiary of Bennett Coleman Limited (the group company of The Times of India and other media and entertainment media outlets) has started CricPlay, a new fantasy sports mobile app and BrainBaazi, a real-time trivia quiz mobile based application.

BrainBaazi allows users to answer multiple trivia and general knowledge questions over a 10 minute period, with the prize pool getting divided amongst all those who answer all questions correctly.

CricPlay allows users to play daily fantasy leagues and other kinds of prediction games through public and private contests. Both the quiz and fantasy sports app are at present free to play and do not charge users any entry fee. The apps however allow users to win cash prizes which can be redeemed through Paytm.

Interestingly however, even though the apps do not involve any entry fee and staking of money by players, they do not allow users from states like Assam, Odisha, Nagaland and Telangana to participate in the games. CricPlay does not allow users below the age of 18 years to participate in the contests. Both these conditions perhaps indicate that apps may be offered for real money soon.

Speaking on the launch of BrainBaazi, Times Internet Limited CEO Gautam Sinha said in a statement, “We think digital-first, and we wanted to reimagine what mobile video entertainment could be. And, so we built BrainBaazi, a completely new format for video entertainment. It’s a live trivia show, with real participation from the people who watch it.”

The fact that Times Group, which is the biggest media and entertainment conglomerate in India has forayed into the social gaming (and possibly real-money skill gaming) space is interesting and is likely to ignite much more interest, competition and business deals in the gaming industry.


Pride Casino promoter, ZDream Ventures invest in social betting startup Cricnwin

Promoter of Pride Group of Casinos, Rahul Khetrapal, Chinese venture fund ZDream Ventures and angel investors Ankush Nijhawan, Gaurav Bhatnagar and Manish Dhingra, have invested an undisclosed amount in Gurugram-based social gaming platform Cricnwin in a seed funding round, as per a news report in VCCircle.

Cricnwin is a social gaming app that  has more than 250,000 users with around 15,000 daily active users. The app offers users an opportunity to play in prediction games, quizzes, fantasy leagues and other interactive games. The mobile app also has live scores, news and other content relating to cricket.

The app rewards users winning points with vouchers of Paytm and Amazon. While the app is free-to-play for customers, Cricnwin earns  its revenues through media sales, in-app purchases and commissions received on voucher redemption.

Cricnwin co-founder Venus Dhuria said the company plans to use the fresh capital for product development and market expansion.

“We are also planning to launch the platform in Hindi soon along with expansion in 10 major cricket playing countries” said another co-founder Vipul Agarwal.

Khetrapal is an active angel investor and has earlier invested in ventures like Kaama Breweries Pvt. Ltd., which sells craft beer under the brand name Witlinger.

Pride Group, which operates casinos in Goa and Nepal, is the promoter of real-money online poker, rummy and fantasy sports website Baadshah Gaming.