Combination of acquisitions and growth helped Nazara Technologies grow 87%: CEO Manish Agarwal

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Online gaming giant Nazara Technologies has been going strength to strength, with a hat-trick of acquisitions – the lastest being the gaming and adjacent intellectual property (IP) business of OML Entertainment for Rs 73 crore through its subsidiary NODWIN Gaming. Earlier, the company had acquired gaming platform OpenPlay and gaming agency PublishMe.

Nazara Technologies CEO Manish Agarwal, in an interview given to ET NOW, shared, “The company is looking to build value with the help of founders of acquired companies at subsidiary levels. The launch of Jio in India has changed the game for gaming in India. Covid accelerated trends already existing since 2018. India is at a 2, 3, 4 year old story, a very small market yet with large growth expectations. PC to mobile gaming, migration has happened in China – while India directly came on to mobile gaming.”

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In the same interview, he informed that India packs 400 million-plus online gamers and that number is only getting bigger with time. Even millions of dollars flowing into India’s gaming industry, courtesy of China’s shrinking gaming market owing to the recent crackdown, four southern states have taken a strong stance against online gaming.

Highlighting the reasons for the growth of Nazara Technologies, he shared “Gaming was growing fast and even before COVID, we were growing almost 48-50 percent year on year. The combination of acquisition and growth helped us grow 87 percent and we are continuing to see that growth momentum in different businesses.”

The recent  Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill has sent distress calls across the market with many independent gaming and trade organisations raising concerns over its ambiguity.

When asked if this could risk Nazara’s business, he argued, “If you look at the risk of gaming which you are talking about is predominantly limited to skill-based real money gaming where people are wagering their money to win a larger part of the money. We launched real money gaming part which is about free-to-play mobile gaming, esports or gamified learning; they do not fall under this bracket and they are very very kosher activities and may have no such issues at all.”

Touching upon the skill-based real money gaming sector, he shared, “The clarity will eventually emerge between a game of skill and game of chance.”

Citing positive court rulings in the recent past, he shared, “You would have heard about the Madras High Court decision which quashed the TN govt. decision saying that you cannot really ban any kind of skill-based gaming people play in your state which they have appealed in Supreme Court and the matter is subjudice”.

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Amid these iterations, tribulations, engagements, and evangelizing, he stressed that the difference between a game of chance and a game of skill will emerge, ultimately leading to clarity in the policy enabling framework. He acknowledged that these are all parts of the industry that is growing rapidly.

According to him, the long-held antiquated perception that gaming is a wayward and unhealthy activity will positively shatter with Esports being added into Asian Games and constant engagements with the stakeholders.

“Our athletes have a very strong chance of winning medals. I think all those positive things will come into play in the coming time and we will have national esports championships and all of this will play well in creating a positive perception around gaming,” he concluded.