With PUBG banned, WinZO looks to fill the void in Indian gaming – raises $18 million from top VCs

With PUBG banned, WinZO looks to fill the void in Indian gaming – raises $18 million from top VCs
WinZO play store
  • WinZO has raised $18 million from top global VCs – Singapore’s Makers fund and New York-based Courtside Ventures, both of whom are pioneers in gaming investments.
  • The startup has grown 15 times over the last 12 months, and since the pandemic began, they have been doubling every two months.
  • India is one of the highest game downloads markets, and WinZO is aiming for the Tier 2-5 cities for its growth.
WinZO has raised $18 million from top global VCs – Singapore’s Makers fund and New York-based Courtside Ventures, both of whom are pioneers in gaming investments. It is also the first investment for the funds in India.

But WinZO’s mega funding comes at an opportune time, with the popular Chinese game PUBG banned by the Indian government. And now, with the latest investment WinZO, which until five months ago held a partnership with PUBG, will look to conquer the Indian gaming market.

PUBG’s ban leaves a void that WinZO wants to fill

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As per the latest reports, PUBG had 12.24 million installs in India and its popularity had seen massive gaming tournaments being organised as well. In fact, WinZO was one of the platforms where these tournaments used to happen. WinZO’s co-founder Paavan Nanda says that while their path to success is not by climbing on other players, PUBG’s ban definitely leaves behind a void, which they would like to fill.

“There’s a big opportunity out there. In fact, we have already seen many Indian developers are building PUBG-like first-person shooting games. They have reached out to us for funding or to help them build those projects and we’ll be happy to help some of them,” said Nanda.

He added that the Indian government’s decision just shows that it is pro-Indian developers. “Earlier, we used to see so many Indian developers who used to build games and just ship it off to European markets or working as the back office of some of the global studios. But now they have started developing their own original ideas,” he said.

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The India opportunity – small is big

India is one of the highest game downloads markets and WinZO is aiming for the Tier 2-5 cities for its growth. The app is already available in 12 different languages. “Interestingly half of our user base does not access our app in English. This is a beautiful journey – WinZO is probably the only vernacular entertainment product which is being able to successfully monetize the Tier 2-5 markets and we are at a very strong position to make decent revenues,” shared Nanda.

Nanda said it is these two points – the ability to monetize and create a product for tier 2-5 cities with strong unit economics is what got the global investors interested. “They might have invested for the first time in India, but they have been tracking the market for a long time and know the India opportunity,” he said.

A billion transactions every month

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While the coronavirus pandemic fuelled WinZO’s growth, Nanda says that even before the pandemic they were growing at a fast speed. They have grown 15 times over the last 12 months, and since the pandemic began, they have been doubling every two months.

WinZO’s revenue has also been growing. The startup’s business model works in a way that users pay a small fee to take part in a tournament and then the winner gets the total cash prize while WinZO charges a commission fee. That small fee is what they call a ‘micro transaction’.

UsersUsageTransactions
25 million48 minutes per user per day1 billion micro transactions

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The plan for WinZO is to now grow as a brand and bring more users and games on board. “We want to make Winzo as a go-to gaming product for the Indian audience. So we will be building a strong robust content (games) pipeline and partner with global third party developers, along with significant efforts in hiring,” he said.

SEE ALSO:

Experts say the ban on PUBG, TikTok and other Chinese apps may be ‘temporary’ ⁠— until data protection law comes along

India bans PUBG, Ludo World, and 116 other Chinese mobile applications


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