Krafton’s History in Indian Esports: BGMI's Resurgence Marks a New Chapter
The Indian esports and gaming community woke up on 19th May to some really exciting news about the return of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI). Developer While the developers have not shared a date of return as of yet, they confirmed that the operations of BGMI have been permitted to be restarted by the Indian authorities.
Despite the ebb and flow over the years, Krafton has remained committed to the Indian Gaming Community (IGC), BGMI, and the esports scene of it all. With BGMI making a comeback anytime soon, let us take a look at Krafton’s contributions to the IGC and esports ecosystem.
The Krafton-India Story So Far
Krafton developed and Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) exclusively for Indian players in 2021. This was after the Indian government blocked access to PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite along with 116 other apps deeming them to be prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
On 7th November, Krafton announced its partnership with Microsoft Azure to host PUBG Mobile among other products on its servers. PUBG India Private Limited officially registered itself with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on 21st November 2020.
Through 2021, Krafton remained committed to communicating with Indian Government officials to rerelease PUBG Mobile for the Indian market, despite the Government denying permission to PUBG / PUBG Mobile India in January 2021.
After a very back-and-forth negotiation, Krafton announced ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India’, and the game was released on 2nd July 2021 for Android devices, and on 18th August 2021 for iOS devices.
Krafton’s Commitment to Indian Esports and Gaming
In 2020 Krafton revealed that it was planning to invest $100 Million USD in India to support local video games, esports, entertainment, and IT industries. As of 2022, Krafton has reportedly in various companies in India.
In March 2021, Krafton started with a minority investment of $22.5 Million USD in Indian esports tournament organizer NODWIN Gaming. Following this in June 2021, the publisher participated in a seed funding round of for homegrown gaming and livestreaming platform Loco, alongside other investors. Additionally, round in 2022.
The publisher continued its investment spree by participating in a Series D round of $48 Million USD for the Bengaluru-based storytelling platform Pratilipi in July 2022. In December 2022, Krafton again invested $6.5 Million in Series A funding for FRND, a startup focused on audio romance and friend discovery.
Notably, in June-July 2022, Krafton added another feather to its hat after it set new records with the BGMI Master Series (BGMS) 2022, which was dubbed as one of the biggest Indian esports tournaments of that year. This tournament, organized by NODWIN Gaming, was televised on Star Sports 2 during prime time for the whole month. BGMS was also streamed on Loco, which announced that it saw during the tournament.
On 19th May 2023, , CEO Sean Hyunil Soh said, “We are our deeply committed to the Indian gaming ecosystem. Our approach has always been India-first, which serves as the foundation of all our efforts. We believe in investing in the Indian gaming industry and contributing to building a vibrant ecosystem that fosters growth and innovation.”
He added that Krafton shall be collaborating with local developers and promoting the use of cutting-edge technologies to further its mission. “We also recognize the importance of providing skilling and employment opportunities for Indian talent, which can help them nurture their skills and thrive in the industry,” Soh said.
Other Krafton Titles
Apart from BGMI, Krafton has also developed and published games such as New State Mobile (formerly called PUBG: New State) and Road to Valor: Empires. New State Mobile provided many aspiring and current BGMI pros with a new competitive environment while the game was banned yet again last year in 2022.
While BGMI remained banned throughout the majority of 2022, many esports teams and players shifted their focus onto New State Mobile and competed in LAN tournaments.
Additionally, in 2023, Krafton partnered up with Indian esports organization S8UL Esports for the publishing and launch of its latest casual player-vs-player [PVP] strategy game called Road to Valor: Empires. Road to Valor: Empires is Krafton’s first casual game for the Indian market and has been developed by Dreamotion. The game features Hindi as a language option alongside unique, curated features to provide an authentic strategy experience in a casual format for Indians.
The IGC and the esports community are ecstatic about the return of BGMI, which once again signals a larger footprint for Krafton in the country. The company thanked players and fans for their unwavering support and patience during the period of its absence and announced that BGMI would soon be available for download on 19th May.