Banned mobile game BattleGrounds Mobile India (BGMI) had been downloaded over 100 million times in the country since its launch in July 2021, said Krafton Inc, while announcing its earnings for the quarter ended June 2022. The company said that it “increased new users, retention and revenue” in India during the first half of the year, attributing the growth to BGMI and various strategic partnerships.
Further, the company said that BGMI Masters Tournament, which was arranged in partnership with homegrown Nodwin Gaming, and telecast on TV channel Star Sports, received 24 million TV viewers and 200 million viewers overall, the company said.
According to Krafton, its global revenue in H1 2022 grew 3% year-on-year (YoY) while operating profit grew 18% YoY. In May, the company had said that it got 95% of its revenues for the first quarter of the year from international markets. In the quarter ended in June 2022, the company’s total revenues stood at approximately $325 million.
Interestingly, the launch of BGMI was prompted after the ban on Chinese apps imposed by the Indian government on June 29, 2020. At the time, the country banned PUBG Mobile, which was similarly popular in India and was run by Chinese Tencent in the country. BGMI was a version of PUBG Mobile meant specifically for India and run by Krafton without support from Tencent. It was banned by the government, citing national security issues, on July 28, 2022.
Like PUBG Mobile, BGMI too had became the go-to game for Indian eSports in its short stint. The combined prize pool of some of the top BGMI tournaments in 2022 was around Rs 6 to 8 cores.
In comparison, the yearly prize pool of Valorant, the second biggest eSports game in India, is not even 15% of BGMI, according to Devdeep Dhar, a professional gamer. The BGMI Master series held in July by Nodwin Gaming was the first eSports tournament to ever be telecast on an Indian TV channel.
The ban is now expected to affect the company’s bottomline in the next quarter, and may also impact the overall gaming industry in India in the second half of the year.
“The reason that Krafton had a splendid first half was due to the restart of on-ground tournaments. The scale of tournaments this year was much bigger and that translated to higher revenues and profits for Krafton,” said Rohit Agarwal, founder, and director of Alpha Zegus, a gaming marketing company.
Agarwal pointed out that when on-ground events happen, the number of people who play games also increases. It was one of the reasons why downloads of BGMI also grew. “All this contributed to a splendid first half for Krafton.”
Though the ban is going to be a demotivator for Krafton, Agarwal feels at the same time it will motivate them to set things right with the government so they don’t lose out on a growing market like India.
Sameer Barde, chief executive of the E-Gaming Federation told Mint that the industry will find an alternative as they did after the ban on PUBG Mobile.
Many are looking at the PUBG New State, a game that was launched last November, as an alternative. However, Agarwal believes that PUBG New State is still months or a year away from even being considered as a replacement for BGMI. “PUBG New State is not eSports ready. A game is eSports-ready when it is bug-free and can handle high traffic,” added Agarwal.