Indian Mobile Gaming Startup MPL Secures US$95M, Nears Unicorn Status

The latest financing, which follows a US$90 million funding round that took place late last year, values the startup at US$945 million.

Indian mobile esports and gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) has raised US$95 million in a Series D financing round, the startup announced yesterday.

The round was led by Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures, the statement noted. Base Partners, RTP Global, SIG, Go-Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Founders Circle and Play Ventures also participated in the round. The startup had previously raised $90 million in September last year.

The fresh funding comes after MPL raised $500,000 last week from its employees under its Employee Investment Plan, the statement said. The investment scheme saw participation from 10% of MPL’s employee base.

The latest round brings MPL’s total financing to $225.5 million. It also takes the startup closer to unicorn status with a valuation of $945 million, the statement added.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup will utilize the fresh funds to expand its esports portfolio and accelerate MPL’s international expansion this year, the statement further said. Funds will also be used to organize more domestic and international esports tournaments.

“As we grow our presence and expand, this fresh round of funds will help us focus on our core value propositions–a robust platform with the best features for gamers and onboarding the best esports titles,” MPL Co-founder and CEO Sai Srinivas said.

MPL is riding the pandemic-induced gaming frenzy

Founded in 2018, MPL offers a mobile gaming platform and also organizes a range of esports tournaments. MPL currently has over 60 million users in India and over 3.5 million users in Indonesia. The startup’s gaming platform offers 50 games on its Android and iOS applications, from fantasy sports, rummy, and poker, to chess, bubble shooter and more. The statement noted that MPL has collaborated with 28 game developers so far to publish their games.

Last year, the startup launched the College Premier League (CPL), which it claims was India’s biggest mobile esports tournament. CPL offered cash prizes and scholarships with an aggregate value of approximately $137,000 (INR10 million). It saw participation from 13,000 gamers and over 100 Indian colleges, the company said in the statement.

“The esports community in India is thriving, and we believe this is the perfect time to take Indian-made games to the world as well as help Indian gamers get recognized for their talent,” Srinivas said about the market for esports in the country.

India already had a sizable gaming market before the global pandemic hit. A 2019 report ranked India among the five biggest mobile gaming markets in the world. It was estimated to be worth $2.4 billion in 2020. According to a survey conducted in India in March 2020, 44% respondents played online games daily.

As people spent more time indoors and worked from home, gaming and esports emerged as a preferred choice of entertainment in the subcontinent. India’s countrywide lockdown, announced in March last year, led to an almost immediate rise in mobile gaming and esports. A report by Inc42 indicates that there was a 41% increase in the time spent on gaming apps during the pandemic.

Now, with the market expected to reach revenues of $3.8 billion this year, companies such as MPL are faced with an enormous growth opportunity within a fast-growing segment in the Indian market.

Header image by Beata Dudová from Pexels

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