MPL’s game development unit Mayhem Studios raises $20m from Sequoia, Steadview, Truecaller, others

Mayhem Studios, the mobile game development studio launched by Bengaluru-based esports and online gaming unicorn Mobile Premier League (MPL) last year, has raised $20 million in its Series A round led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Steadview Capital, Truecaller and others, people aware of the development told ET. Bing Gordon, chief product officer at US-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, has participated in the round in his personal capacity.

“The development was shared with the employees of Mayhem Studios at a recent town hall meeting,” one of the persons cited above said, adding that the funds will be used by the company to ramp up its capabilities and develop new gaming titles in India.

The fundraise has come in the backdrop of the central government announcing regulations for online gaming, which legitimises various forms of online gaming barring real money games that allow wagering on an outcome.

Sequoia Capital, which has led Mayhem Studios’ maiden external funding round, is also an investor in MPL. The gaming studio is a subsidiary of MPL, which offers fantasy sports, casual games and real money games on its platform.

Mayhem Studios was launched to develop AAA mobile games, which are video game titles with big development and marketing budgets. The studio launched its first gaming title Underworld Gang Wars – a battle royale game – shortly after its launch in May 2022.

The game development studio competes with several players including Dream11-parent Dream Sports’ Dream Game Studios, Nazara Technologies, and others.

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Times Internet, a part of Times Group, which publishes ET, is an early investor in MPL. MPL last raised around $150 million at a valuation of $2.3 billion back in September 2021. The company also forayed into web3 gaming and launched non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Good Game Exchange (GGX) last month to tap into the play-to-earn gaming sector.

ET had reported earlier that MPL’s foray into web3 gaming was part of a plan to create a gaming group that spans skill-based real-money gaming, play-to-earn, and Mayhem Studios.

MPL declined to comment.

Last week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology announced the final rules for online gaming, and laid down a self-regulatory framework for online games to be certified as permissible or non-permissible. Following the notification, gaming industry executives had said that the new rules would help bring regulatory clarity, and were expected to unlock foreign direct investment into India’s online gaming sector.

The Indian gaming market is expected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2022 to $8.6 billion in 2027, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28% with the number of gamers expected to reach 700 million by 2025, according to gaming-focussed venture investment firm Lumikai. Between 2017 and 2020, the Indian gaming market expanded at a CAGR of 38%, compared to 8% in China and 10% in the US.

In addition to disallowing online gambling and betting, aspects such as potential financial loss, user harm and possibility of addiction will also be considered by the self-regulatory organisations while certifying them as permissible or non-permissible.

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