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Dream11, other Indian gaming companies look to launch NFTs

The experts tracking the space say that NFTs have the potential to replace in-app purchases which are said to have grown 10-times in the last three years.

November 18, 2021 / 03:08 PM IST

Indian gaming platform like Dream11, Mobile Premier League (MPL) and Nextwave Multimedia, a subsidiary of gaming company Nazara Technologies which owns the World Cricket Championship (WCC) franchise, are actively looking to launch their own non-fungible tokens (NFTs), said multiple people who are aware of the developments.

NFTs are currently a hot commodity as celebrities from different walks of life are jumping on the bandwagon to cash in on the boom. While many critics have dismissed the craze as the latest bubble, the rise of NFTs has baffled many.

While NFTs are being launched in various sectors, gaming NFTs have become a rage after online game Axie Infinity sold NFTs for over $3 billion and also popularized the play-to-earn model which others are actively looking to follow. With the gaming sector seeing a significant rise in user base, launching NFTs seems the next logical step, say the experts.

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Further, India has the world’s largest number of game downloads with 17.7 percent of total worldwide downloads, according to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

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Experts tracking the space say NFTs have the potential to replace in-app purchases which are said to have grown 10-times in the last three years.

“NFTs are exciting because they fulfil a number of demands. For instance, people play WCC for years, some also find it as part of their childhood. Over the period, these users have accumulated a lot of assets and now for it to be used, they share their login and password with other users. NFTs can streamline this along with other use cases,” said P.R. Rajendran, founder and CEO of Nextwave Multimedia which runs WCC.

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Observers say that currently the major growth drivers are the increase in crypto users, tech-savvy youngsters and the intrigued investor keenly looking at the space.

“This play-to-earn model will be a game changer for the Indian companies as it will give a reason especially to the new users, a reason to play. Both the real-money and the non-real-money segments will be benefited but the key is how these companies will integrate these NFTs into the game,” said Manish Aggarwal, CEO of Nazara Technologies.

In the six months to a year, a slew of gaming NFTs will be launched in India, he added.

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But, experts caution that these game NFTs are unregulated and risky assets. While a lot of projects are raising money to become the next big game, many abandon the project midway and take years to develop even in the traditional gaming space.

While Dream11 declined to comment, MPL did not respond to emailed queries.

Gurgaon-based Totality Corp. is also building a playable NFT gaming metaverse called ZionVerse, based on Indian mythology which will cost $101-150 and is set to be launched next month.

“We are seeing more opportunities for real-world applications which focus on decentralisation. With the same thought we launched RageFan that will integrate real-world applications with the crypto world. The gaming industry has already proven its user base, business model and monetisation models, and valuable NFTs will only add more value for the existing user base,” said Satheesh Ananthasubramanian, founder of blockchain-based platform RageFan which offers sports NFTs and fan tokens on its marketplace.

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He added that price points will be a crucial factor for the success of gaming NFTs in India.

“While gaming is on the rise, monetisation remains the biggest hurdle for gaming companies. But we see a slow shift from freemium to premium,” said Prabhu Ram, head, industry intelligence group (IIG), CyberMedia Research.

“As serious gamer engagement increases over time, NFTs present another potential secret sauce for gaming companies to power their growth, by getting serious gamers to play-to-earn through NFTs. But, it remains to be seen how well it is received by the serious gamers,” added Ram.

According to the latest report by market research and consulting firm RedSeer, India's paid gamer base is set to touch about 235 million in 2025, from 80 million in 2020. An average gamer spends an average of about $16 a year on gaming. Real-money games attract the highest spend on a monthly basis, with users spending an average of about $3.50 per month.

Dheeraj Shah, a crypto educator who also moonlights as a gamer, said, “Thousands of Indian gamers are playing NFT games like Axie Infinity and making more than minimum wages and enjoying at the same time. Gaming has always been thought to be a waste of time by parents, but some of the players are making more than their parents these days. Players are using this money to pay for their college, rent, food and live a better life.”

He added that the current games make revenue by selling games and in-app purchases and a take of the total revenue, which is not the case with NFT gaming.
Sanghamitra Kar
first published: Nov 18, 2021 02:48 pm

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