As the use of smartphones boomed in the country, cheap data for consumers and an explosion of leisurely games followed. One start-up that saw an opportunity to ride this digital wave was Delhi-based WinZO Games, a vernacular gaming aggregator that lets you win actual money.
“We ideated the platform towards the end of 2017, when the number of smartphone users was on a rise. Millions of people were spending 40-45 minutes daily, playing basic games such as Temple Run, Subway Surfers and Candy Crush,” says Paavan Nanda, co-founder, WinZO Games. They studied the user engagement data and planned to monetise it.
WinZO curates its collection of games by partnering with various gaming studios and developers domestically as well as internationally. Its 90% users hail from Tier-II and Tier-III cities across 1,500 towns and villages and most of its games have been adapted from popular international games, but given an Indian touch. Some of these games are called Candy Match, Bubble Shooter, Crazy Quiz, Fruit Samurai, to comprise a total of over 70 games. The app is available in 10 languages including English, Hindi, Telugu and Kannada, and the company claims that each user spends at least 55 minutes daily on an average.
Co-founder Saumya Singh explains the business model and says the subscribers have to redeem the money via e-wallets. In fact, many of them use e-payment platforms for the first time when they win something on WinZO, and Singh and Nanda had to personally assist many users in this domain. Multiple players play a game, where each one has to pay a nominal amount as low as Rs.2-25. The pooled money then works as the prize money for the winner, while WinZO takes a commission of 10-12%.
But, how do they retain users when thousands of such apps are released every day? They believe they have an advantage here since a user can simply switch to the next game on the same app. Singh explains, “When you layer the games with competition and rewards, the shelf life of these games also increases.” The money factor is a major plus for any player, and once you have championed a game, you’ll only want to come back for more. She adds that a user makes eight micro-transactions every month on an average.
WinZO raised its Series A funding of $5 million from a round led by Kalaari Capital early in 2019. Content with its success, the Delhi-based platform is now looking to employ a fund of $1.5 million to promote upcoming game developers and studios. “Unlike Korea and China, the Indian gaming sector has not reached its full potential yet,” says Nanda. He believes many good games are being distributed to European studios due to lack of funds. Hence, with monetary aid, WinZO aims to enable these developers to distribute their games through their own platforms.