IPO Season: When Indian game companies go public

Here’s an interesting analysis of Nazara Technologies’ products to understand its initial public offering

By   |  Published: 20th Mar 2021  6:11 pmUpdated: 20th Mar 2021  6:44 pm

The last week has seen the Indian gaming industry dominate business news as Mumbai-based Nazara Technologies has decided to raise its money by taking its business public. By offering 52.9 lakh shares in the price band of Rs 1,100 – Rs 1,101, the company hopes to raise Rs 583 crore from investors.

While the price point of shares might seem steep considering that not many people (including gamers) have heard of Nazara, the IPO was backed by Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and was subscribed over two times by day 1 and over 10 times by day 2. The immense popularity needs a through analysis of Nazara Tech, its business, the games they make, and, most importantly, if the idea of investing in a gaming company is worth your time and effort.

The last six months have seen investments in the gaming organisations rise as people have picked up the act staying indoors, ‘will the trend last after life becomes normal?’ is the most pertinent question to ask. Games like Ludo King, Skribbl.io and UNO that were darlings of the pandemic have begun to lose their sheen. Similarly, as people’s mobility returns in parts globally, engagement time with games has begun to dwindle.

Thus, it is important to consider the longevity of Nazara’s plans before deeming it a worthwhile investment site.

Gamified learning

Nazara as a company is present (according to its website) in four domains namely, gamified early learning, esports, games and telco subscription.

In gamified early learning, it offers an app where pre-schoolers can learn by playing games that resemble existing games like Cut the Rope, the app called ‘Kiddopia’ claims to have over 9 million users and has won a host of awards.

The experience is quite good, and this is a worthwhile venture for Nazara. I expect the app to keep growing as it is subscription-based and while Byju’s offers a better experience with its partnership with Disney, Nazara’s offering can keep narrowing the gap if they continue to be committed towards building a more intuitive experience.

Esports

The second domain of esports is where the problems begin to show themselves: Nodwin and Sports Keeda both raise considerable alarms. Revenue from Sports Keeda will be problematic as the current writing and analysis on the sports website needs a complete overhaul if it has to compete with the likes of ESPN or Cricinfo.

Nodwin, on the other hand, is a bigger issue as all the sports tournaments that the website lists are from the PUBG mobile era and since the game’s ban, the pro scene for the game has stagnated in the country. There is no indication to the company’s progress from here. In terms of streaming video content, they say 3,000+ hours, a number that is quite low and thus the ability for revenue generation seems problematic both on the esports or video monetisation fronts as their game of choice is no longer legal and the video library is simply too small.

In terms of the games they make, Nazara seems to have the rights to Chhota Bheem but what they have done with it is quite lacklustre. They have games like Chhota Bheem Surfer and Chhota Bheem Forest Run (Me Too copies at best) or a host of cricket games. The ability to offer interesting, nuanced content just doesn’t seem to be there.

Similarly, there are games on carrom and a portal where people from Kenya can bet on ongoing sporting events. In terms of the games, they offer and their ongoing plans, everything except ‘Kiddopia’ is a no go and thus a share value of Rs 1,100 is absurd to say the least.

Analysing the bouquet of services on offer, there seems little coherence, or vision. A lot of the games designed, or the esports efforts seem stuck after the initial ‘trial and error’ phase. I understand gaming is coming of age in India, but not like this. Stay away from this one, gamers and investors!


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