Krafton commits $150 million to India following BGMI trial approval

South Korean gaming firm Krafton plans to invest another $150 million in India over the next 2-3 years, it said in a boon to the local gaming ecosystem, after securing permission to trial its popular battle royale game in the South Asian market following two bans.

Thursday’s announcement follows Krafton investing about $140 million in 11 Indian startups and the local gaming ecosystem in the last three years. The company, whose Indian investments include Nodwin Gaming, Loco, Pratilipi, Kuku FM, told TechCrunch that it’s “implicitly happy with the performance” of India portfolio startups as most of them have grown their revenues multiple times and raised subsequent rounds.

“We continue to hold a long-term view on India and its vibrant startup ecosystem, and we understand perfectly well that there are a number of reasons that can impact a company’s performance, including market conditions and consumer sentiment, among others, and we at Krafton will continue to support them,” the firm said.

The new $150 million investment pledge comes at a time when Krafton’s BGMI mobile title has been permitted to operate in India, nearly a year after it was banned. The South Korean giant secured the three-month approval from the Indian authorities to resume operations of Battlegrounds Mobile India in May and the duration of the trial is set to expire in two weeks.

BGMI itself is a revamped and localized version of PUBG, another popular title that was banned by New Delhi in mid-2020 over national security concerns. Krafton has made many significant business decisions — including cutting ties with Tencent as publisher and switching to Microsoft’s Azure for servers in India — to address New Delhi’s concerns.

Nonetheless, the new announcement is a major boost for the local ecosystem. Krafton’s game is the most popular title in India and the linchpin of the country’s esports realm. As India grapples to attract ample investors in the gaming sector, Krafton’s steadfast support is a significant help.

“We believe in the power of Indian IPs and content in making a lasting global impact, and we are excited to achieve new milestones in our journey to unlock the country’s full potential as a global gaming powerhouse,” said Sean Hyunil Sohn, chief executive of Krafton India.

For Krafton, PUBG and its revamped India title, BGMI, remain among the most popular titles in its portfolio. And India remains a big market for the mobile battle royale games. In less than three months since the relaunch of BGMI, the title has amassed about 30 million monthly active users in the country, according to mobile intelligence firm SensorTower. The company said in an earnings call this week that BGMI is started to generate revenue.

The company said that the timing of its investment commitment and the conclusion of the BGMI trial are unrelated. “We will continue to invest and support the local ecosystem regardless of any conditions imposed on us. Krafton has invested close to $140 million since 2021 into the Indian startup ecosystem, and we expect to keep doing so, given that we have identified India as one of the premier engines of growth for Krafton globally,” a spokesperson said.

Source @TechCrunch

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