Paytm having another go at gaming, revives Gamepind with Alibaba-owned AGTech
Photo Credit: Ankit Kumar/VCCircle

Digital payments firm Paytm is reviving game aggregation service Gamepind in a new avatar in partnership with Alibaba-owned AGTech Media Holdings Ltd.

Paytm said the revised Gamepind would complement its ecosystem by enhancing its customer experience through a portfolio of games and entertainment content including casual games, contests and sports games, combined with its shopping experience.

Gamepind would also act like a marketing and promotional platform for merchants, the company said in a statement.

Gamepind was originally a game aggregation service for mobile operators. The portal contained games for downloading under different genres such as adventure, action, puzzle and racing. The service was offered to consumers of telecom service providers like Airtel and Idea Cellular.

Later in November 2013, the company had rebranded the service to make an entry into the digital gaming market under Paytm Games. The store was initially launched in India, Dubai and Bangladesh. Tied to its partner telecom operators, the service was available on Idea, Vodafone and Uninor in India, whereas, in Dubai and Bangladesh, it is available on Du and Airtel, respectively. Users could download the app by sending an SMS to their mobile operator to get a link that will download it on their phones. The store had games from independent developers and most of the games were the ones that are not already present on the Google Play Store. It worked on a revenue-sharing model with the developers.

However, Gamepind continued to be operational with a few operators.

It’s not clear if Paytm still operates Gamepind as a value-added service (VAS) product for mobile operators. An email query sent to Paytm seeking more details did not elicit a response. The company also did not clarify if/when it had shut Paytm Games.

Hong Kong-based AGTech is an integrated games and entertainment company. AGTech Holdings is owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s Ali Fortune Investment Holding Ltd and Ant Financial. Also, Ant Financial holds a stake of more than 30% in One97 Communications.

This is AGTech’s first major international initiative in the Indian subcontinent. AGTech has a 45% stake in the joint venture while Paytm owns a 55% stake.

“A member of Alibaba Group and Ant Financial Group, we have been active in looking for international expansion opportunities capitalising on the vibrant ecosystems of Alibaba Group and Ant Financial Group. As AGTech’s first strategic international expansion, this joint venture lays the foundation for future collaborations as the company continues to globalise its business by working with leading local partners in overseas markets,” said John Sun, chairman and chief executive of AGTech.

The mobile platform offering social and casual games will be available both on the Paytm app and as an independent app, the company said.

The JV was first announced in July this year by AGTech Media’s parent, AGTech Holdings Ltd in a regulatory filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

As part of the agreement, Paytm will invest $8.8 million and AGTech $7.2 million in the new venture. The JV’s board will have five members—Paytm will nominate three members and AGTech Media two.

“AGTech's expertise and experience in global mobile game market will help us accelerate our plans in game and entertainment business and bring exciting content to our users,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of Paytm.

Paytm’s parent company One97 Communications Ltd has, in recent years, ventured beyond its traditional mobile wallet offering into the payments banking and e-commerce sectors.

Earlier this week, the company said its valuation has jumped close to $10 billion (Rs 63,595 crore) after some current and former employees exercised their stock options.

Paytm is now the second-biggest unicorn in India by valuation. It trails only Flipkart, which had a valuation of $11.6 billion when it raised $2.4 billion from Japan’s SoftBank Group last year. A unicorn is a startup valued at least $1 billion.

Interestingly, Flipkart has invested in mobile gaming company Mech Mocha Game Studios Pvt. Ltd.

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