India among top 5 markets; willingness to pay among gamers rising: Krafton India CEO
"In India, I believe Meity (IT ministry) announced that they will have some age verification recommendations in the near future. We are looking forward to it," Krafton India CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn said.
India is among the top five markets for Krafton—the maker of PUBG and Battlegrounds Mobile India—even though the country has less than 10% of its total user base paying for games, Sean Hyunil Sohn, Krafton India CEO said.
"India is a long-term play for us. The market goes at least 10 or 15% per year. We want to maintain our position and grow with the market. India is among the top five markets for us," he added.
Currently, the company runs Battleground Mobile India (BGMI) shooting game in India, similar to PUBG which was banned by the government in September 2020. The government had ordered to block BGMI but allowed it to re-launch the game in May.
Sohn said that Krafton's paid user base and average revenue per user in India is comparatively lower than that in the developed gaming markets. "We have in-app purchases where people pay for their consumption like cosmetics, and extra skills. It is not RMG (real money gaming) where cash out is allowed," he said.
When asked if companies have plans to enter the RMG segment, Sohn said, "We are not specialised in RMG because in countries like Korea, Japan, maybe China, or most of Southeast Asia, the RMG is not allowed. India has a legal system or a framework, which is similar to Anglo Saxons like the US, and UK, which are more liberal on this but South East Asian countries are very strict on cash out," he said.
He further added that the company on its own had made several changes to address the issues raised by a section of society around the adverse impact of the shooting games. Furthermore, the company has voluntarily reduced game play time for minors per day to three hours, and six hours for adults, but the age verification process is not very challenging in India.
"No other games have such restrictions. We are sort of more aggressive in terms of putting certain restrictions but age verification in India is still very tricky," Sohn said. Accounts created as that of minors will need permission from parents to play the game.
"I know this is not enough for certain people but I believe the system has the most progressive sort of measures, which we have put in place in India. In developed gaming markets, there are some kind of self-regulatory or government-established rating agencies. But in India, we don't have it. It's more like self-regulation," Sohn said.
Krafton has put a minimum age of 15 years but Sohn said that there are still a lot of ways to circumvent it in the absence of an age verification system. Countries like Korea and China have a very good age verification system which can be used for any app, any content service, Sohn added. "In India, I believe Meity (IT ministry) announced that they will have some age verification recommendations in the near future. We are looking forward to it," he said.
Talking about deeper engagement in India, Sohn said that the company has invested around $150 million in gaming companies and has announced plans to invest another $150 million over a period of the next two to three years.
"We will continue to launch new games for the Indian market that we will source from Korea, different countries, and even from local developers. At the same time, we want to nurture and grow the development system through this incubator programme. We continue to invest in early-stage startups as we have done for the last three years," Sohn ended.
Edited by Suman Singh