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LINE extends its mobile games section to India

lineNaver Corp owned mobile messaging and calling app LINE has extended its mobile gaming apps to India, nine months after its competitor WeChat introduced WeChat Games.

LINE India head Damandeep Singh Soni told Economic Times that this section was introduced in a bid to increase its active users in the country and also possibly to increase its revenues in turn. Note that games accounted for 60% of the company’s $338 million revenues in 2013.

While the company hasn’t disclosed its current active base in the country, which we feel is a true measure for a mobile messaging app, the company’s registered user base has somewhat plateaued in the country: It claims to have 18 million registered users in India, which has remained the same since April this year and is only a modest increase from 15 million registered users in December last year. However, the company still hopes to cross 50 million registered users by the end of this fiscal year.

When we checked, we noticed that LINE has a games section under the ‘More’ tab that offers 16 games right now. These include games like Cookie Run, PokoPoko, LINE Rangers, Pokopang, Disney tsum tsum, Puzzle Bobble and Football League Manager among others.

One can tap on any game of their preference to download it from Google Play store and start playing it. There is also a social element to it, wherein the app indicates the games being played by their friends. While the games are free to download, the company monetizes these through in-app purchases.

LINE started focusing on the Indian market in July last year, and had appointed Damandeep Singh Soni as the head of its India Business Development early this year.  Last month, Line decided against an initial public offering (IPO) which it had considered for its overseas growth strategy. The company had filed for an IPO at the Tokyo stock exchange in July this year, with an initial valuation of $10 billion before it decided against going public. It had even appointed Nomura Holdings Inc and Morgan Stanley to manage the Tokyo IPO, while considering the possibility of an IPO in the US.

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Besides WeChat, Bharti Softbank-backed Hike also promotes games from its sister venture Tiny Mogul Games in its app, whereas the market leader WhatsApp has deliberately stayed away from offering games in its app. Speaking to Medianama, WhatsApp business head Neeraj Arora had told Medianama “Our philosophy has been very clear from day 1: Anything that clutters the experience is not going to be done. No games, no gimmicks, no ads”. More on that here.

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