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“This is the decade of gaming in India,” says Nitish Mittersain, founder of Nazara Technologies, in an interview with The Ken. Mittersain isn’t shy to admit that he’s probably said this line about 500 times in the last month alone as part of initial public offering (IPO) roadshows. Still, he insists, the sentiment is genuine. “I’ve never felt it [before] really as much as I do now,” he says.

Mittersain clearly isn’t the only person who feels this way. Gaming company Nazara’s Rs 583 crore (~$80 million) IPO issue was oversubscribed 175.5 times last week. It’s the third-highest subscription for an Indian IPO with an issue size of more than Rs 200 crore ($27.5 million).

When the 22-year-old company lists on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 30 March, analysts expect a market capitalisation of around Rs 6,000 crore ($826 million). “It should list on the market at about Rs 2,000 ($27.5) per share,” says Altaf Siddiqui, managing director and CEO of Enrich Advisors, an investment advisory firm focused on pre-IPO equities.

To put Nazara’s prospects in context, Info Edge, which owns companies like job portal Naukri and property portal 99acres, is one of the few other tech stocks in India. It trades at about Rs 4,337 ($59.7) and has a market capitalisation of $8.4 billion.

Among the companies floating their IPOs this time around, Nazara is not just the only tech company, but also the lone gaming company of its vintage.

While ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s investment in the company is significant in convincing investors, in many ways, it’s impressive that Nazara has even survived this long. The last 20 years have seen scores of gaming companies launch and then fall by the wayside as the sector evolved from online games to SMS-based games, WAP WAP WAP WAP games are a type of mobile phone-based games that use the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) to communicate with central game servers and other players. They are generally multi-player, interactive games. games, and, finally, smartphone games. Nazara has seen the gaming verticals of internet portals like Indiatimes, Sify, and Rediff come and go. Getting to where it is now required cockroach-like survival skills— stubbornly clinging to life despite the universe conspiring to render it extinct.

Game theory

If the size of the Indian gaming industry is about $900 million, $500 million of that is from real-money games like rummy, according to Nazara’s annual report for the year ended March 2020.

Nazara survived two near-death experiences. First, when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000; and then again in 2016 after the entry of telco Reliance Jio, which killed mobile value-added services ( VAS VAS Value-added services VAS in mobiles refer to non-core services offered by telcos beyond voice, SMS, and data.


Arundhati Ramanathan

Arundhati is interested in how people use money in the digital age and how new economies will take shape based on that interaction. She writes the newsletter Ka-Ching! every Monday. She lives in Bengaluru and has spent over 12 years reporting and writing on various subjects.

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