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NEW DELHI : Banned mobile game BattleGrounds Mobile India (BGMI) has been downloaded more than 100 million times in the country since its launch in July 2021, said its South Korean developer Krafton Inc., while announcing earnings for the June quarter. 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, had 24 million TV viewers and 200 million viewers overall.

According to Krafton, its global revenue in H1 2022 grew 3% from a year earlier while operating profit rose 18% in the same period. In May, the company had said that it earned 95% of revenues for the March quarter from international markets. In the quarter ended June, total revenues stood at about $325 million. Interestingly, the launch of BGMI was prompted after the ban on Chinese apps by the Indian government on 29 June 2020. At the time, the country banned PUBG Mobile, which was similarly popular in India and run by China’s Tencent. 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 concerns, on 28 July.

Like PUBG Mobile, BGMI too had become 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 about 6-8 crores. In comparison, the yearly prize pool of Valorant, the second biggest eSports game in India, is not even 15% of BGMI, said Devdeep Dhar, a professional gamer. The BGMI Master series held in July by Nodwin Gaming was the first eSports tournament to be ever telecast on an Indian TV channel. The ban on BGMI is now expected to hit Krafton’s profits in the September quarter, and may also impact the overall gaming industry in India in the second half of 2022.

“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 firm.

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 that 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 said 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.

 

 

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