NEW DELHI: Undeterred by the despondence in the gaming industry over the government’s decision to increase GST to 28%, Korean major Krafton has decided to nearly double its India investments. The company is bringing in Rs 1,200 crore ($150 million) to infuse in gaming and AI-focused companies over the next two-to-three years.
The company, which runs the popular game Battlegrounds Mobile India or BGMI (that made a re-entry in May this year after the government had banned it in July 2022), has already been making investments in the gaming and internet eco-system.These include Nodwin Gaming (esports), Loco (gaming live streaming), FRND (audio matchmaking), Nautilus Game (‘real cricket’ mobile franchise), Fantiger (NFT marketplace for artists), and Kuku FM (audio streaming).
“Demand for gaming content is growing very fast in India. We want to be a contributor to the ecosystem and other related fields,” Krafton India CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn told TOI, while speaking about launching new games that are sourced either from their headquarters, or other overseas locations, and locally.
Krafton began its operations in India in early 2021 and has invested over Rs 1,100 core (around $140 million) in various local start-ups. “We are now bringing in an additional $150 million, of which one-third will go into existing properties, a third into gaming, and the remaining into AI and deep learning companies. We already see dramatic changes in gaming through the use of AI and deep learning tools,” Sohn said.
He said that India has a large pool of tech talent, which is making the company scout for start-ups for investments.
The company is not concerned about the government’s decision to slap a 28% GST on the full player collections of gaming companies as it impacts real-money gaming (RMG) companies. “Our portfolio is not about real-money games where there is a cash out. In our games, you can do in-app purchases where a player pays for their consumptions like extra skills, vehicles, and other cosmetic items.”
However, he said that the government should promote esports leagues and encourage companies to grow the ecosystem. “Esports is emerging like a mainstream sports. For example, Saudi Arabia is launching an annual esports World Cup, which will include the most popular games.”