Nazara acquires majority stake in NODWIN Gaming

Nishant Patel

24th, Jan, 2018
Nazara Technologies has acquired a majority stake of 55% in NODWIN Gaming for an undisclosed amount. For those of you that have been living under a rock, NODWIN Gaming is the company behind some of India’s most prestigious esports tournaments including the ESL India Premiership. This announcement comes a little less than a year after Nazara Games made public their intent to invest around USD 20 million in Indian esports and is the first publicly announced move made by them in the Indian esports domain.
 
What does this mean for Indian esports fans?

The press release received by AFK Gaming states that with this majority investment in NODWIN, Nazara is furthering its commitment of developing the esports ecosystem to enable competitive online and offline gaming, create localized leagues and boost esports as a spectator sport in India. The approach includes localized content creation around global events (ESL One, ESL Pro League, Intel Extreme Masters, The International by Valve, etc.) and creating local events by bringing in sponsors.  The last time NODWIN did an India hub for an international event was in collaboration with yours truly for ESL One Manila.
 

This investment bodes well with Nazara’s reported plans to go public with the Indian gaming industry’s first Rs.1,000 Crore IPO towards the end of March 2018.

Prize pools in Indian esports have been trending upwards since 2012. Last year, NODWIN Gaming became the first Indian esports organisation to cross the INR 1 crore prize money threshold in a single calendar year across its various tournaments. This year, they've announced that they will cross that amount throught a single tournament - the ESL India Premiership 2018.
 
(See also : Esports in India - 2017)
 

The contents of the full press release are as below.

Nazara Technologies Ltd. which announced its foray into esports last year, has acquired a majority stake of 55% in NODWIN Gaming, the pioneer of esports in India. NODWIN will become an independent subsidiary of Nazara.

EY acted as the exclusive financial advisor to the transaction.

NODWIN, a 50:50 venture between Akshat Rathee, Gautam Virk and Jetsynthesys Pvt. Ltd., has pioneered esports in India with established relationships with global gaming publishers and platforms including market leaders such as ESL (Turtle Entertainment,GMBH) and Valve Corporation.

Nazara, with its majority investment in NODWIN, is furthering its commitment of developing the esports ecosystem to enable competitive online & offline gaming, create localized leagues and cups and boost esports as spectator sports in India. The approach includes localized content creation around global events (ESL One, ESL Pro League, Intel Extreme Masters, The International by Valve, etc) and creating local events by bringing in sponsors. This will give a massive boost to the creation of world class esports athletes and players emerging from the indian ecosystem.

Sandeep Singhal, MD, Westbridge Capital quoted “Nazara and Nodwin coming together is a great win-win for the shareholders of both the companies. We are delighted at the possibility of this alliance.”

According to Manish Agarwal, CEO, Nazara Technologies, "Through this acquisition we aim to provide Indian esports enthusiasts a robust player and community orientated esports ecosystem, in which players can thrive, improve their skills and become top competitors at an international level.

According to, NODWIN Gaming, CEO and Managing Director, Akshat Rathee, “esports is one of the fastest growing sports worldwide. This acquisition by Nazara Games adds to the credibility of NODWIN and opens up a wide vista of opportunities for Indian esports players to build careers domestically and Internationally. It strengthens our ability to provide our key stakeholders better experiences and bigger opportunities to engage with our community”

Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Jetsynthesys Pvt Ltd., added “Having worked closely with Akshat Rathee and Gautam Virk to build Nodwin Gaming to this level, we are pleased and excited about the future opportunity for all of us, that opens up with Nazara’s participation to help establish Nodwin as the clear leader in e-sports over the longer term”

Nazara with its acquisition of NODWIN intends to leverage its investments in mobile and digital sports category to build Intellectual Properties in the esports space alongwith NODWIN in emerging markets across disciplines such as soccer, cricket and other traditional sports.

Nazara’s exisiting investments in mobile gaming companies like Next Wave Multi Media, Mastermind Sports, Moong Labs and Hala play are in line with building a network of synergistic companies for operations in India and other emerging markets across Middle East, Africa and South East Asia.

The esports market is growing at a fast pace as it becomes more and more popular around the world. The global esports audience totaled 322 million in 2016, up 86 million since 2015. This number is likely have grown to almost 386 million in 2017 and will continue to increase rapidly, at a CAGR of 14.0%, reaching 665 million in 2021. The Indian esports audience is still very small, with an estimated 2 million Enthusiasts and 2 million Occasional Viewers, but is expected to grow more than fivefold by 2021(Source: Industry Insights for Online and Mobile Gaming in India, Frost and Sullivan, January 2018]; (Source: Newzoo)
 

About NODWIN Gaming

NODWIN was founded by Akshat Rathee in January 2014 and Gautam Virk joined as a Co-founder. Rajan Navani additionally came on as an investor through Jetsynthesys, to pioneer esports in India with established relationships with global gaming publishers and platforms including market leaders such as ESL, ESWC and Valve.

NODWIN has the exclusive long term India rights for global partners such as ESL, ESWC among others. NODWIN hosts and managesIP based gaming events such as the ESL India Premiership, The Dew Arena by ESL, KO Fight Nights, The North East Championship, The Intel Extreme Masters qualifiers for India, The Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) India Qualifiers, etc.

NODWIN also partners with other leading brands to create multiple gaming properties in India such as The esports arena at Indian Gaming Show by CII, The Asus ROG Masters, etc.

NODWIN’s leadership in the nascent market can be judged by the fact that, of the total prize pool championships created and /or organized, NODWIN Gaming contributed to 53.7% or over INR 1 Crore of the total Prize pool in India.
 

About Nazara Technologies Ltd.

Nazara is a mobile games company headquartered in Mumbai, India and has operations in 61 countries across emerging markets, as on September 30, 2017. Nazara runs mobile gaming subscription services to mass mobile internet users comprising largely of first time mobile gamers across Africa, Middle East, South East Asia, Latin America and the Indian subcontinent. In India, Nazara has licensed mobile gaming rights to popular IP’ like Virat Kohli, Hrithik Roshan, ChhotaBheem, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Motu Patlu, Mighty Raju, Tinkle Characters and Chacha Choudhary.

Nazara was one of the leading publishers by downloads on Google Play Store with 44.49 million downloads until September, 2017 in calendar year 2017 and 19.34 million downloads in calendar year 2018. Nazara’s independent subsidiary Next Wave Multimedia is IP owner of World Cricket Championship franchise.
Nextwave Multimedia Private Limited (‘Nextwave’) had 64.30 millions downloads until September, 2017 in calendar year 2017 and 42.02 million downloads in calendar year 2016.

Nextwave’s monthly active users (MAUs) in September 2017 were 11.02 million as compared to 6.00 million MAUs in September 2016, across its World Cricket Championship franchise.
 


About esports

Esports made it to the dictionary in 2015 as “A competitive tournament of video games, especially among professional gamers?.” This phenomenon actually turns online gaming into a spectator sport, mimicking the experience of watching a professional sports event. Instead of watching a physical sport on a pitch or ground, spectators watch video gamers compete against each other in stadiums and arenas.

MOBA (Massive Online Battle Arena) games such as Dota2and League of Legends have done most successful in popularizing esports though tournaments and leagues. Games such as Counter Strike continue to draw millions of viewers to watch the best esports athletes compete against each other. Esports entertains a young and desirable demographic. Its viewership reached 322 million in 2016. 54% of esportsviewers are aged 21-35. Educated, high earners and tech savvy, this audience is also predominantly male (70%). Esports fans watch esports and play the games in a virtuous cycle. They aspire to be follow teams and atletes, be entertained and engage with the game by improving their own gameplay.

In recent years, esports has become a sizeable market worth USD 748 million, the global esports market will reach USD 1.2 billion in 2018. (Source Newzoo)

The popularity and growth of esports has had the effect that esports is now functioning like other professional sports leagues. Players are full-time professional players that are paid salaries by teams and trained by professional coaches. Professional teams are supported by sponsors and event organizers and operate the same way as major international football, basketball or cricket clubs. Major esportstournaments attract large audiences at esports venues and viewers (both online and on TV). Players/teams can win multi-million dollar prize pools at the top international tournaments. Similar to other sports, top esports players have become internationally known celebrities and this is what the Nazara investment in NODWIN aims to facilitate for India. (Source: Industry Insights for Online and Mobile Gaming in India, Frost and Sullivan, January 2018); (Source: Newzoo)

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