Nazara Games invests in Bangalore based Mastermind Sports for 26 per cent stake

Mumbai based Nazara Games known for its casual games on mobile platforms has invested in Mastermind Sports, a mobile gaming company known for its digital real time sports prediction cricket apps. Nazara has invested an undisclosed amount for a 26 per cent stake in the Bangalore based company and was the sole investor for this round of investment. Mastermind Sports is founded by London sports gaming entrepreneur Tom McCall and Bangalore tech entrepreneur Pratik Shah. With Nazara, the company has recently soft launched CricBet on Android, just in time as during the IPL season the cricket fever is the highest in the country. Speaking exclusively to Nazara Games, CEO, Manish Agarwal, AnimationXpress.com got more insights into the investments and future course of action at Mastermind Sports. “I met Tom at PGConnects London last year and he was developing this sports prediction app and we talked about the prospects about the app and the Indian market. At the same time last year, I even met Pratik who told me about the product but the conversation thread had stopped there. But later this year, Tom and Pratik wrote to me again about this product and I was really impressed. We saw a great potential in the product and the team that could create a solid sports prediction platform which is not just limited to cricket.” CricBet The game CricBet is a live prediction game where users stake virtual coins on what they think is about to happen during a match. There are eight prediction markets where one can predict the next boundary to be scored; guessing the number of runs off the next over, whether a batsman will score over 50 runs or not. With leaderboards, levels, tournaments and a forum to interact with other fans, CricBet is the first truly social and competitive cricket game to reach the Indian market since Fantasy Cricket appeared over 10 years ago. “Our focus is the ‘second screen’ experience. We aim to use our sports and technology insights to create mobile games that engage fans during live matches, enhancing experience with their friends & family without geographical constraints,” says Mastermind Sports, CEO, Tom McCall. To achieve this, Mastermind Sports has spent two years building a real-time prediction platform. Mastermind Sports, CTO, Pratik Shah, adds: “The platform’s intelligent engine adapts to the ebbs and flows of a live match, ensuring the most accurate and insightful gaming experience possible. Our games, led by ‘CricBet’, are designed to truly test fans ability to predict what is about to happen. Something that every sports fan professes do best!” So, what is the prospect of the sports prediction app, “In India, cricket is considered as a religion and everyone is an expert. And I believe that mobile phones are second screens for youngsters today. People keep predicting what is going to happen in each match, each over and for each individual. Why not hop over to your phone and do it with virtual currency and have fun along with it. We have started the app coinciding with IPL but it will not be limited to it. We will slowly make it available for all cricket tournaments,” says Manish.
From Left:
From left: Nazara Games, CEO, Manish Agarwal; Mastermind Sports, CEO, Tom McCall; Mastermind Sports, CTO, Pratik Shah
Talk about the incentives that various apps provide when the user engages or interacts with the app, Manish retorts, “Right now, we are not providing any incentives or vouchers, as they tend to hamper with the user app interaction pattern and purpose of coming to the app. Once we have a strong user base, we can look at providing incentives, but not right now. Apart from that we do have incentivised video ads that will allow for a continuous progression of the user in the app.” Not only cricket, but also Manish says that Mastermind plans to expand the app to other sports like soccer and even sporting events that are played worldwide. With India being home to a number of sports tournament in the recent years, Mastermind certainly won’t have to look too far. Be it the local soccer tournament Indian Super League, hockey tournament Indian Hockey League or badminton tournament Badminton Premiere League, India is currently hosting a number of sports league round the year and this is just what Mastermind may want to tap into to engage a diversity of audience. This the second investment Nazara has announced this year with it investing in London based gaming studio TrulySocial. So, is Nazara looking more at the publisher model where the in-house game development takes a backseat? “Yes, that is going to be the strategy eventually. But the plan is to work with the next 100 developers. We are looking at unique concepts and good products. For that we are looking both abroad and as well as Indian markets,” clarifies Manish. “Nazara will continue to develop games in-house but strategically we would love to work with more and more developers and set up an ecosystem.” Having interacted with the game personally, I have to say the application does have a little catch for you. If you start winning a few and (mind you it is solely on the cricket game that is being played live and not how usually a normal mobile game functions on being progressing on the difficulty), you may want to bet a few just for the fun of it. But the interaction starts only when the match is live and you are in front of the TV seeing a how the game is progressing. It would be good if one could see a little statistics of the match and predict right off through the mobile phone.