Nazara Technologies, one of India’s biggest gaming companies, has given us some of the best mobile games ever, like the World Cricket Championship (WCC) series and the Chhota Bheem game series, which has allowed the corporation to become a household name. Earlier this year, the company made a stellar IPO as it listed at a premium of nearly 81% over its issue price in an IPO that was subscribed 176 times by investors. The gaming and sports media platform has been riding on a high for the past few years and is expected to continue doing so. On Friday, the platform acquired a stake of 100% in Hyderabad-based skill-based gaming company OpenPlay Technologies for ₹186.4 crore.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s Nazara Technologies offers a diversified sports and media platform. This acquisition is the company’s second in the skill-based real money sector since the acquisition of Halaplay in 2019. Moreover, this is also the second acquisition since Nazara’s public listing, and eighth overall. It is set to help the company in the creation of a network of skill-based gaming destinations all of which operate on one common tech platform under OpenPlay and its founder, serial entrepreneur Sreeram Reddy Vanga. According to a senior company executive, more acquisitions are on Nazara’s mind.
In a regulatory filing, the company said that its Board of Directors approves to make the strategic investment for the “proposed acquisition of 10,000 equity shares of Rs 10 each representing 100 percent of OpenPlay Technologies from its existing shareholders i.e. Sreeram Reddy Vanga and Unnati Management Consultants LLP at a consideration of Rs 186.41 crore, in one or more tranches.” The first tranche would see the company acquire a stake of 23.30% for ₹43.43 crores by the end of the second quarter of FY22, and the rest of the stake will be acquired in the second tranche during FY22.
The real-money gaming segment brings in 2-3% of its overall revenue (Gamify learning and e-sports make up 81% of its revenue while free-to-play mobile gaming contributes about 4%). According to Nazara CEO Manish Agarwal, it was a “large space with hardly two or three big players.” “The current market is as big as $1 billion – $1.3 billion and is expected to grow at 30-40% CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) over the next three to four years,” he said, adding that they had stayed away from it till recently due to the regulatory uncertainty in the country around the real-money gaming sector. Now, the company aims to grow the segment to ₹100 crores over the next 12-18 months and expects real-money gaming to make up 8-10% of the overall revenue.
As for OpenPlay, the start-up has an annualized gross gaming revenue run rate of ₹80 crores and is EBIDTA-positive. It is known for operating a multi-game consumer gaming platform under the “Classic Games” brand, which in turn hosts skill-based games.
“I’m excited to join the ‘Friends of Nazara Network’ and look forward to working closely with Nazara leadership and the Network to build India’s largest vernacular social gaming and entertainment platform. Our technology complemented by Nazara’s positioning in the gaming industry in India is the perfect combination for this endeavor,” Vanga said.