The developer of Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG) mobile version, Krafton, has invested around $22.4 million into the Indian esports and gaming company Nodwin Gaming according to reports earlier this month.
The South Korean based developer has reportedly invested the cash to “keep some presence on [SIC] what once was his major overseason market.”
Krafton are the owners of PUBG and its mobile version PUBG Mobile, the latter of which was the most popularly played esports title in India.
In addition, Changhan Kim, the Chief Executive Officer of Krafton has hinted that this may well be just the first of a tranche of investments in the region with his company keen to explore additional investment opportunities within the Indian region.
The financial boost is good news for Indian esports firm Nodwin Gaming, who has already teamed up with Krafton to promote two big PUBG mobile events taking place across Asia.
This comes after the Indian government moved to ban PUBG in Indian last year, alongside over 100 other Chinese based games and apps, due to what were termed at the time as being ‘in the interests of national security.”
Why Is Krafton So Invested In The Indian Market?
It is not unusual for companies to invest in one another, especially when there can be mutually beneficial outcomes for both and this certainly seems to be one of the motivating factors for Krafton investing a significant sum in Nodwin Gaming.
For Krafton, after the Indian government’s ban on PUBG, they saw a significant chunk of their considerable market in India removed and while there are rumours that PUBG Mobile could be reintroduced in India shortly, there has been no official word on this from the Indian government.
And indeed, the political situation with China does make that prospect perhaps more distant than many are willing to admit.
However, Krafton are thought to be ready to reintroduce PUBG Mobile to India when possible, as well as the potential for some new games targeted at Indian players.
Those games will likely come in the form of mobile gaming titles. India, while generally a poor, rural country, may not have the infrastructure in place to host big esports events in places other than major towns and cities.
However, mobile smartphone uptake is increasingly prevalent and growing and part of what is fuelling that trend is the Indian gamers love for mobile esports gaming.
Not only that but companies like GG.bet also offer esports betting in India and this is another avenue of opportunity which Indian players can access from their mobile devices.
It is this relatively untapped mobile market, alongside an increasing console/PC-based esports gaming market that has Krafton so interested in maintaining their presence in India, and given its population of over a billion, it is not hard to see why.
Is Indian Esports Markedly Different To European Esports?
It is fair to say that there is a very different outlook to esports in India compared to say Europe, which is chiefly driven by the fact that most people’s access to esports comes via a mobile phone or tablet, rather than a PC or console.
This does alter the dynamic as to what games are most popular in the region. Easy to play games on mobiles such as PUBG Mobile or Clash of Kings remain the easiest and most accessible way into the industry.
This contrasts to other parts of the world, such as Europe, where console and PC gaming are generally the way people start to gain an interest in esports.
As such, the titles popular in India do tend to be different from those played more widely in other parts of that world. That diversification provides opportunities and it is these opportunities that Krafton seems to be positioning itself to take full advantage of.