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Gaming startups see investments boom

The online gaming boom triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has channelled hundreds of millions of dollars into Indian gaming startups and set an investment record, data from private company data tracker Venture Intelligence showed.

Venture capital funds have invested $438 million in Indian gaming startups since April 2020, of which $107 million came in the new year. In comparison, the total investment in Indian gaming startups in the previous financial year was just $170 million.

“We have seen more investments in gaming last year than we have seen in the last five years together. The market has reached an inflection point for games. There is equal interest from financial institutions as well as strategic capital looking for partnerships and acquisitions in India," said Salone Sehgal, general partner at Lumikai, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on gaming.

Lumikai has several deals planned for Indian startups for 2021.

Fantasy sports startup Dream 11 raised $225 million in September 2020. Earlier this month, mobile e-sports platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) raised $95 million, moving closer to the unicorn club with a valuation of $945 million.

Most of the online and real money gaming platforms, including MPL, WinZO and Paytm First Games, reported a big jump in traffic, user base and time spent on gaming in 2020. Paytm First Games saw 200% growth in user base and a four-fold increase in gameplays in the first half of 2020.

According to Sensor Tower, an app analytics company, standalone gaming apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store recorded 51% and 30% growth, respectively, in revenue from user spending on in-app purchases in 2020.

Apart from the growth in the Indian gaming market, investors are also beginning to see the global growth potential of some of these platforms.

“There is excess of liquidity in global market and the Chinese markets are not accessible. More importantly, India is now starting to prove that it is no longer just a consumer of games," added Sehgal.

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