As popularity for online games soars in India amid the country-wide shut down due to novel coronavirus outbreak, social gaming platform WinZO has got its big break.
The New Delhi-based startup that runs online games with real money in prizes has bagged a contract with Tencent Games to bring PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) Mobile tournaments on its platform in ten regional languages. It would now organize PUBG Mobile’s free to enter e-sports tournaments “with prizes over USD 133,000 (INR 1 crore) per month,” the company said in a statement.
This comes at a time when online games are seeing their traffic rise, as more and more people choose to stay at home as the reported cases of COVID-19 crossed 200 in the country.
According to Rathore, over the last one week, WinZo witnessed a 30% surge in traffic from tier 1 cities, where coronavirus cases are going up rapidly as compared to smaller cities prompting people to stay indoors. She added that the number of games played and the time spent on the app by the users grew to “almost 3x, recording an all-time high.”
WinZO was founded in 2018 by Paavan Nanda, who previously co-founded hotel aggregator startup Zo Rooms, and Saumya Singh Rathore, who served as chief of staff at Zo Rooms. In February last year, WinZo raised USD 5 million in Series A from chat platform Hike and Indian VC firm Kalaari Capital.
The company claims to have crossed 20 million app installs in less than a year of operations and that 90% of its users hail from smaller cities and towns. Tencent has been trying to tap into India’s half a billion smartphone users who live in smaller Indian cities, often called Bharat. This is one of the reasons for Tencent to shake hands with WinZO, which claims to have 80% players from tier 2, 3, and 4 cities, who use the app in their own languages such as Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, and Bhojpuri.
“This is one more step towards our endeavor to be all and end all destinations for a holistic entertainment experience,” said Paavan Nanda, co-founder, WinZO Games. “Tencent India’s trust in WinZO is a testament to our unique vision and our distinctive strategy to develop a Netflix of Gaming. Together we aspire to bring the best gaming experience to the mobile-first audience of Bharat.”
WinZO, which competes with Mobile Premier League, Dream11, and Games2Win, among others, offers over 70 games on its platform including Cricket and Carrom in multiple formats such as tournaments and real-time multiplayer games. The game charges anywhere between zero to INR 25 (USD 0.3) per entry. The company said it is already clocking 200 million micro-transactions per month, adding that the average time spent is more than 55 minutes.
With the tie-up with Tencent, the startup is now creating the vernacular e-sports experience for Tencent’s PUBG Mobile.
“This will not only empower the gamers in Tier II to Tier V Indian cities to play the game but also make them acquainted with the rapidly emerging and prestigious e-sports leagues of the likes of ESL and Tencent’s own PUBG Mobile global e-sports,” the company added.