After BGMI ban, Krafton plays the long game with investments

After BGMI ban, Krafton plays the long game with investments

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Soumya Gupta

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Soumya Gupta

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Krafton was jolted in July when India banned its crown jewel, Battlegrounds Mobile India. Even as its biggest money-spinner faces an uncertain future, Krafton has continued to invest in Indian startups. The thread that ties these bets together is the potential to enrich India’s gaming ecosystem.

December 05, 2022

8 MINS READ

It’s been a difficult few years for Krafton in India. Indeed, the plight of the South Korean gaming giant’s plight reads like a modern retelling of the Greek legend of Sisyphus—doomed to forever roll a boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down again.

Krafton’s struggle stems from its ties with Chinese tech major Tencent, which is an investor in the company. It is this relationship that led to Krafton’s wildly-popular mobile game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (commonly known as PUBG), banned in India in 2020.

The ban was part of a wider clampdown on Chinese apps at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions between India and China. Prior to its ban, PUBG had racked up some 180 million downloads in India—just under a quarter of the game’s total downloads worldwide.

Krafton would go on to reintroduce PUBG in July 2021, this time under the moniker ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India’, or BGMI. Just a year on, however, BGMI—which had over 100 million registered users in India—was also banned.

Krafton’s hiccups in India, one of its largest markets, have weighed heavily on the company’s share price. Since the start of 2022, Krafton Inc—which is listed on the South Korean stock exchange—has seen its share price cut in half. The BGMI ban in July, in particular, caused the company’s share price to tumble by 9%.

Krafton still operates multiple game titles in India. None of these, however, have come close to capturing lightning in a bottle the way BGMI and PUBG did. The company hasn’t given up on BGMI, say people in the know. Sources tell The CapTable that Krafton is trying to work around the ban. Thus far, say these sources, it has made little headway.

Krafton, however, isn’t content to simply push its gaming boulder up the hill again. Instead, it’s leaving no stone unturned to ensure that its future and the future of Indian gaming are inextricably intertwined.

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