Nazara Technologies Limited an India based, diversified gaming and sports media company and its wholly owned subsidiary Nazara Technologies FZ LLC announced investment in Griffin Gaming Partners (Griffin) Fund II, L.P as a Limited Partner in the Fund. Nazara Dubai is a Limited partner in Griffin Gaming Partners Fund II, L.P for a capital commitment not exceeding USD 4 Million (INR 30 Crores), payable in cash, in one or more tranches. Nazara Dubai will invest up to USD 1.34 Million (INR 10 Crores) upfront while the rest of USD 2.66 Million (INR 20 Crores) will be deployed over a period of 3 years.
Griffin Gaming Partners Fund II was founded by Peter Levin, Phil Sanderson, and Nick Tuosto, with LionTree as a strategic partner to the Fund. The firm prefers to invest in gaming platforms and infrastructure, gaming content, and game studios. Griffin Gaming Partners Fund II is a leading venture capital firm singularly focused on investing in the global gaming market. The company has decades of investment, advisory and operational experience in the space.
Nazara, with this proposed investment, aims to become part of global network of Limited Partners (“LP”) of Griffin as well as its investee companies. Access to this network should foster strategic partnership with Nazara’s subsidiaries including but not limited to emerging market partnerships, investments etc. Management believes that the company aims to leverage the Griffin network for the following strategic initiatives:
- Potential partnerships and/ or potential investment into Nazara and its subsidiaries.
- Securing deal flow for future M&A from the current portfolio of the funds as well as inflow of deals coming to funds.
- Co-investment opportunities into highly sought-after founders/ companies.
Nazara Technologies CEO Manish Agarwal, “Griffin Gaming Partners led by Peter, Phil and Nick has established itself the go to gaming fund for entrepreneurs across the world looking to raise smart money. The value addition which the Griffin team brings to the founding team is priceless and hence this partnership with Griffin will act as catalyst to accelerate growth of Nazara’s footprint in local Indian and global gaming ecosystem.”
“Gaming is truly global and is projected to reach a staggering $256 billion of annual consumer spend in 2025. Having key strategic partnerships such as Nazara in the rapidly scaling geography of the Indian subcontinent is a significant benefit for Griffin. What Manish and the team at Nazara have built is highly differentiated and their culture is a spot-on fit with our strategy,” said Peter Levin, Managing Director, Griffin Gaming Partners.
In addition to the investment in Griffin Gaming Partners Fund II Nazara has acquired multiple companies over the past few years. Nazara has placed itself in a leading position in esports, interactive gaming and gamified early learning space with the ‘Friends of Nazara’ network. Nazara has acquired a majority stake in Nodwin Gaming Pvt. Ltd; Next Wave Multimedia Pvt. Ltd., which operates World Cricket Championship (WCC), the largest mobile-based cricket simulation game, in addition to investment in Absolute Sports Private Limited, which operates Sportskeeda and Paper Boat Apps Private Limited – gamified early learning subscription app and OpenPlay – Skill Gaming.
Maxim88 strikes gold with legendary footballer Michael Owen as its brand ambassador in Asia
Asia’s leading online betting platform, Maxim88, has sealed a two-year partnership with legendary English striker and former Liverpool and Manchester United star Michael Owen, who will be representing the brand as official Brand Ambassador in Asia.
Michael Owen is one of the greatest English & Premier League strikers of his generation – with his signature great pace, instinctive finishes and agility. A prolific goal scorer, he had defenders quivering in fear but won the hearts of fans with his skills and astuteness on the field. He not only excelled in the regional leagues with the likes of Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Newcastle, but also thrived on the international stage representing England.
The revered English striker will collaborate with Maxim88 to promote the brand across Asia ahead of the English Premier League kick-off on 6 August and conduct various digital marketing activations to further boost the brand’s awareness across the region. This deal also signifies Maxim88’s intent to strengthen its position as Asia’s leading online betting platform and reinforce their commitment to provide only the best in terms of quality, choice and security to sports enthusiasts in Asia.
“I am delighted to join hands with Maxim88 for their marketing initiatives in Asia. As brand ambassador, I am looking forward to engaging with more sports fans and am committed to giving my absolute best in this partnership with Maxim88 to represent all the great qualities that Maxim88 stands for – outstanding, innovative and entertaining!” said Michael Owen.
“Maxim88 is dedicated to being a reliable and user-friendly platform that is always working on providing members the best there is. As a matter of fact, we have secured the partnership with Evolution Gaming to elevate members’ gaming experience, and we hope that this new collaboration with Michael Owen will bring on something fresh and exciting. Michael Owen, who has proven himself to be a stalwart figure in the football scene throughout his career is just who we need to help achieve greater heights. We are honored to work with Michael and we look forward to engage with more sports enthusiasts in the region through our platform,” said Adam Hong, Maxim88’s spokesperson.
This ambassadorship was brokered by Outlast Sports Entertainment for Maxim88.
“We are thrilled to have played an integral part in connecting one of Asia’s biggest online betting platforms with a respected name in football like Michael Owen. We are certain that this partnership has the dynamics to bring about valuable results and greater opportunities for the region. The hope is to replicate the good results Maxim88 has after partnering up with the well-known gaming provider, Evolution Gaming,” said Outlast Sports CEO, Salauddin Sinnakandu.
Inside the Battlegrounds Mobile India ban, and the impact on India’s mobile games market
The Indian government requested Apple and Google to remove Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) from their app stores on July 28th, one year after it launched in the country. Our research shows that the popular battle royale game, published by South Korean firm Krafton, is no longer available for download. The request comes in the wake of several allegations made against the game for being a rebranded version of PUBG Mobile, which was banned in September 2020 due to national security concerns. These concerns were recently raised in the Indian Parliament, with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) stating that BGMI was a different app to PUBG Mobile, suggesting it was not a national security concern. It’s unclear what changed to cause MeitY to pull the app.
While the government has not issued a statement to confirm the game is permanently banned, Reuters reported that the title was pulled by MeitY using Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, the same act that was used to justify the ban of 321 mobile apps since June 2020. BGMI is the 57th game pulled due to this regulation. The bans have primarily targeted mobile apps from China, primarily citing national security risks. BGMI’s takedown comes just 5 months after the ban of Garena Free Fire, the most popular battle royale game in India until then.
Krafton launched BGMI after PUBG Mobile was banned
MeitY originally banned PUBG Mobile in September 2020 due to national security and data privacy issues following, though not necessarily as a result of border tensions with China. While the PUBG IP is owned by Krafton, PUBG Mobile was developed and published in India by Chinese gaming giant Tencent. At the time of its ban, PUBG Mobile was the #1 game in India by both revenue and downloads and had been a key driver of mobile gaming growth in the country. The ban had a profound impact on the battle royale segment and broader gaming ecosystem, with the unserved demand satiated by Garena Free Fire over time.
Krafton announced in November 2020 that it would bring its core battle royale experience back to India, with BGMI launching in July 2021. Krafton fully committed to the Indian market by self-publishing the title, introducing local servers to store user data securely and in country, and by announcing it would invest over US$100 million in the Indian gaming, esports, entertainment and IT industries, which it has done. The game saw significantly high uptake at launch given the popularity of battle royale games in the country, with 40 million registrations prior to launch and 16 million daily active users in its first 10 days.
BGMI had over 100 million downloads in its first year
BGMI has been a huge success for Krafton and the title was on track to reach the 200 million download mark that PUBG Mobile had achieved prior to its September 2020 ban. The title had quickly become the #2 highest grossing mobile game in India and its 2022 revenue was set to exceed that of PUBG Mobile’s peak year. BGMI has also become the leading esports title in India with Krafton investing heavily in the space to set up the Battlegrounds Mobile India Pro Series, an official league for Indian teams with a prize pool of US$260,000.
According to Niko’s Asia Esports Tracker, BGMI is the #1 title by prize pool in India, with its total 2022 prize pool accounting for 35% of total prize pool revenue for all local and regional esports tournaments. The game also saw massive endorsement from streamers, esports organizations, and teams with high participation across key events. The BGMI Masters Series LAN event was also the first tournament to be televised live on Indian TV, reaching 12.3 million viewers.
How this impacts India’s mobile game market
If BGMI does not return to app stores, we believe it may have a material impact on the short-term growth rate of India’s mobile game market and the esports ecosystem. Battle royale is the most popular mobile game genre by player spending in India according to data from Sensor Tower, accounting for over 1/3 of total mobile game spending in 2021. BGMI and Free Fire accounted for over 95% of total spend on mobile battle royale games in 2021 and H1 2022, but both titles have been removed from app stores this year. However, Niko’s research shows that Free Fire MAX, a high-end version of Free Fire from Garena, remains available on Google Play. It’s unclear how MAX is still operating on Google Play, but the MAX version was not specifically included in the ban list where Free Fire was banned.
There will also be a negative impact on the broader BGMI ecosystem, especially within esports and live streaming. Everyday players will now be looking for a new title to play, and we expect most to shift over to Free Fire MAX assuming the title continues to operate. Call of Duty: Mobile (Activision Blizzard) may also benefit given its strong position in the market as an established shooter game with a battle royale mode that consistently ranks in the top ten game revenue chart. Apex Legends Mobile (Electronic Arts), New State (Krafton – Title was formerly PUBG New State) and Farlight 84 (Lilith Games) are core battle royale games that may also benefit, but we note that these titles are not as established as Call of Duty Mobile and Free Fire MAX.
Paris Saint-Germain Partners with 1XBET
Paris Saint-Germain and 1XBET have signed a partnership agreement for the next three seasons. From now on, 1XBet is officially a partner of the French club in the African and Asian markets, with the possibility of extending the agreement to other regions in the coming seasons. In all these territories, marketing campaigns will be launched with the stars of the PSG men’s football team.
“We are delighted to welcome 1XBET as a regional partner of Paris Saint-Germain. 1XBET is well established in continents where the club has a great many supporters. 1XBET is an ambitious stakeholder in the world of online sports betting and, by collaborating with Paris Saint-Germain, hopes to consolidate its position as a leader in many countries,” Marc Armstrong, Chief Partnerships Officer at Paris Saint-Germain, said.
“Paris Saint-Germain is one of the world’s most popular football clubs. We share a desire to succeed in all fields and to offer fans a brand-new, enriched online betting experience,” Alex Sommers, spokesperson for 1XBET, said.
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