Alibaba and Paytm backed gaming venture to raise USD 25 million as Indian mobile gaming market grows

India’s mobile gaming is expected to reach USD 1.1 billion by 2020.

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Paytm Frist Games, the joint effort between Paytm and China’s Alibaba, is reportedly in talks to raise USD 25 million from a group of investors including SAIF and an unnamed Hong Kong-based investor, as India’s mobile gaming market is set to hit USD 1.1 billion by 2020, per an estimate by Nasscom, the Indian IT trade association.

Formerly known as Gamepind, which is available both through the Paytm app and as a dedicated app, the service was rebranded last year as Paytm First Games as part of Paytm’s efforts to introduce a bouquet of products under the Paytm First brand, a loyalty program that offers a wide ranges of services from video and music streaming to food and travel offers.

Alibaba, together with Paytm, through its subsidiary AGTech Holdings, invested USD 16 million into Gamepind last August.

Since then, Paytm First Games has grown rapidly to offer more than 300 mobile-based casual games. According to Sudhanshu Gupta, COO of Paytm’s gaming division, there are nearly 30 million users on the platform with half of them being monthly active users contributing to annual revenues of USD 50 million to the company’s coffers.

With plunging mobile broadband rates and affordable feature-rich smartphones, the Indian mobile gaming industry has seen a remarkable upsurge over the last couple of years. Nasscom predicts that the number of mobile game users in India will be touching 628 million by 2020.

A rosy picture of the local gaming market has attracted a swath of notable rivals include Times Internet owned Mobile Premier League, which claims to be India’s largest gaming app, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar backed Smaaash, and Pocket Aces’s  Loco. The other major players in the fantasy sports segment are Dream 11, MyTeam11, and CricPlay 11Wickets. Dream11 boasts of the largest user base—almost 50 million in number.

Across all emerging markets, India has recorded the highest mobile game downloads clocking nearly 2.8 billion in number within the first half of 2018. A Google-KPMG research report expects more than 100 online game developers to be added in the next four to five years. Such fiery growth in India is being fanned by the growth of Internet users to nearly 750 million by 2020.

Other factors that paint a rosy Indian gaming picture are a rise in disposable income, and a young population. 43% of the current Indian population is between 15-40 years in age. Increased revenues are expected by gaming developers as 60% of India’s Internet population plays online games and also the country’s digital payments users are projected to explode to 300 million by 2020.