3 Minutes Read
India today has become one of the fastest-growing markets for online gaming. With increasing accessibility to the internet, a high telecom penetration rate, and cheap data connectivity pushing the trend, online gaming is pulling in a lot of interest not just from the metros but even tier-2 and tier-3 cities in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the growth. But if 2020 was a profitable year and saw several high-profile acquisitions and investments in this sector, 2021 looks even brighter. The country is projected to have 190 Million gamers by the end of 2021, with the industry size predicted to grow to $50 Billion.
Underlining this growth are three big investment stories. Bengaluru-based Mobile Premier League (MPL) is on the anvil of becoming the second Indian gaming unicorn, after Dream11. The company reportedly closed a massive Series D funding round to the tune of $95 Million (~₹691 Crores) led by Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures. This has doubled the company’s valuation to $945 Million in less than a year.
Another gaming behemoth Nazara Technologies, which had filed the papers for its long-awaited IPO in January, has raised ₹100 Crores from Mauritius-based hedge fund Instant Growth Limited (IGL).
The third update is on Ahmedabad-based eSports portal Gamerji that secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding from a privately-owned angel investor firm, Lead Angels.
Mobile Premier League (MPL)’s Valuation Doubles After $95 Million Funding
Bengaluru-based Mobile Premier League (MPL) has received fresh funding amounting to a massive $95 Million (~₹691 Crores) in a Series D funding round. According to an Economic Times report, the funding round was led by Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures, with participation from Base Partners, Go-Ventures, Founders Circle, RTP Global, SIG, Telstra Ventures, and Play Ventures.
MPL has reported that the new investment has more than doubled its valuation to $945 Million since the last time it raised capital in September 2020.
MPL – Charting Aggressive Growth
MPL was already aggressively moving to expand its portfolio of offerings and user base with media outreach.
Months after its launch in 2018, the startup raised ₹36.24 Crores ($5 Million) in a Series A funding round, with VC firm Sequoia Capital being the primary investor.
The firm has Indian Cricket team Virat Kohli and Bollywood actor Tamanna Bhatia as brand ambassadors and sponsored the Shah Rukh Khan-owned IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders at IPL 2020 and Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) at the Caribbean Premier League. In December 2020, MPL also bagged the contract for providing kits and merchandise to the Indian cricket team.
The company has been aggressively wooing the Indian audience through TV commercials and digital campaigns. The recent infusion in funds has now propelled MPL to become the second-biggest gaming company in India, after Dream11.
MPL plans to use the funds raised to broaden its eSports offerings and organize more eSports tournaments while looking at overseas expansion. Underlining this, Sai Srinivas, co-founder, and CEO of MPL stated – “This fresh round of funds will help us focus on our core value propositions – a robust platform with the best features for gamers and onboarding the best eSports titles. The esports community in India is thriving, and we believe this is the perfect time to take Indian-made games to the world as well as help Indian gamers get recognized for their talent.”
MD of Composite Capital, Kanush Chaudhary, said, “As an industry leader in the gaming market, we believe the company will continue to innovate and drive the evolution of eSports, both in India and internationally.”
The portal currently offers over 50 games in different categories, including poker. It claims to have 60-Million registered users in India and over 3.5 Million users in Indonesia.
Nazara Secures ₹100 Crore Investment From IGL
On January 24, we had reported that game developer Nazara Technologies had filed the requisite papers with SEBI to float an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Nazara has since raised ₹100 Crores from Mauritius-based hedge fund, Instant Growth Limited (IGL).
Confirming the investment, CEO of Nazara, Manish Agarwal, stated, “We are glad that they (Hornbill) share our conviction and excitement on the future of the gaming sector in India and the value creation potential which gaming offers to the investors.
IGL is an investment vehicle of the North America-based limited partners of Hornbill Orchid India Fund.
Managing Partner at Hornbill Capital Advisers, Manoj Thakur, told the media, “We have been closely following Nazara’s journey over several years, as it evolved into a platform for gaming and gamified early learning. The leadership team of (co-founder) Nitish (Mittersain) and Manish have built Nazara into an attractive ecosystem for some of the most promising entrepreneurial talent in the Indian gaming and early learning space.”
The Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed company has been consolidating its foothold in the gaming ecosystem. Nazara has acquired/invested in over 13 sports media and gaming startups in the past two years alone. Some of these startups include Nodwin Gaming, Next Wave Multimedia, Sportskeeda, Paper Boat Apps, Mastermind Sports, Moonglabs Technologies, Bakbuck, CrimzonCode, InstaSportz, and NZWorld.
Apart from growing its international presence in markets like the Middle East, Africa, and North America, the company has increased its stake in HalaPlay and was speculated to be eyeing the acquisition of Adda52 from Gaussian Networks.
E-sports Platform Gamerji Raises Funds From Lead Angel Investors
Investors seem to be lining up for a pie of the rapidly growing gaming ecosystem in India. Among the beneficiaries of this renewed interest is Ahmedabad-based eSports platform Gamerji that raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from privately owned angel investor firm Lead Angels.
This is the third time that the 2019 startup founded by Soham Thacker has raised capital. The firm had earlier raised $400,000 from “La Gajjar Group” in a friend and family funding round in January 2020. The same year, in December, early-stage tech venture fund Unicorn Ventures invested an undisclosed sum in the platform.
Confirming the investment, CEO of Lead Angels Networks, Susshanto Mitra, said, “With online gaming coming of age in India and 190 million gamers in India, we see a tremendous opportunity ahead as the company scales up its reach.”
Gamerji hosts daily tournaments in addition to providing management support to other e-sports companies. Some of the platform’s popular titles include Free Fire, Call of Duty, WCC Rivals, and Asphalt 9. The portal claims to have a user base of 1.3 Million users and hosts nearly 80 matches daily.
Thacker elaborated on the portal’s USP – “Small organizers can use our standardized packages to create tournaments, while we work with large influencers on a revenue share model. The platform also has a subscriber base of over 1 million gamers, who can all participate in the daily free tournaments.”