Mobile game publisher and developer Nazara Games has invested an undisclosed amount in Delhi based mobile gaming startup MoongLabs, reports VCCircle. MoongLabs develops free games for smartphones and tablets. Fresh funding from Nazara will be used for enhancing its game engine to build a more “realistic cricket simulation experience”, adapted from mobile games like FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer (PES).

In a previous tie up with Nazara in July 2016, MoongLabs published mobile cricket games like Virat Super Cricket and Epic Cricket. Founded in 2013, the startup mostly focuses on arcade, sports and racing games on mobile, and has more than 25 games listed on its Google Play portfolio. However, MoongLabs is mostly focused on the mobile cricket gaming segment.

Why Nazara is investing in MoongLabs

Most mobile sports games like FIFA, NBA, and PES provide an immersive gaming experience with features like live commentary, manual replays, match graphs, dynamic crowd, in-game 3D animation, among others. Nazara said that cricket games on smartphones usually do not have such immersive quality experience. Its association with MoongLabs will help it develop better quality cricket games for mobile in the future, the company added.

“The global mobile cricket gaming market is underserved within the sports gaming segment, unlike soccer or basketball. We at Nazara are committed to investing or incubating studios which have shown a strong growth in the mobile cricket game space,” Manish Agarwal, CEO of Nazara Games was quoted as saying in the VCCircle report.

However, in terms of quantity, the cricket gaming segment in India isn’t “underserved” as claimed by Agarwal. Nazara itself had tie ups with cricket celebs in the past. It currently holds exclusive rights to develop, distribute and market games around cricketer Virat Kohli for three years. It had also signed a similar deal worth $3 million with Sachin Tendulkar back in 2005. It’s competitor Indiagames also had a tie up with Indian Premier League to launch the ‘Official IPL season 5’ mobile game in 2012.

This is Nazara’s third investment since its launch. It focuses on the broad mobile gaming market and develops, and distributes games via tie ups with partners, which includes names like Electronic Arts. Its customers include mobile operators as well as handset manufacturers. A notable launch from the company was in February this year when it announced a 5-year investment of $20 million to develop a fully owned eSports league in India. Below is a list of its previous investments:

  • TrulySocial: The company invested an undisclosed amount into TrulySocial, a London-based mobile game studio in April 2016 which makes simulation/social world games for mobiles and tablets.
  • Mastermind Sports: In April last year, Nazara acquired a 26% stake Mastermind Sports, a mobile game development company focused on sports category. Under the deal, Nazara will create and publish games developed in the sports category.

Competition in Indian mobile gaming space

Recently, Paytm parent One97 signed a joint venture deal with an Alibaba Group owned unit to bring casual mobile and social games to Indian users. Both companies together invested $16 million into the venture. Some other notable names in India’s mobile gaming space include Bangalore based Mech Mocha, a mobile gaming startup which raised $5 million in May this year. Other companies focused on the mobile gaming sector in India include Viaan Studios, 99Games, Games2win, PlaySimple.