Mobile Premier League (MPL) is one of the fastest growing eSports platforms in India today. Launched in September 2018, the platform has garnered over 25 million users in a short span of time and aims to break barriers of access to make mobile gaming a household sport across the country. Offering a one-stop platform with multiple, popular, skill-based games and esports to choose from, MPL is extensively using AI, ML and analytics to stay ahead of the game.
The company currently made headlines when it announced Series A investment of $35.5 million, led by Sequoia India, Times Internet, and GoVentures with participation from other investors including RTP Global, BeeNext, Base Growth, and Venture Highway. Aiming to use the funding amount for product development and user growth in India, the founders are working every step to become India’s largest Mobile eSports Platform which is accessible to all. The company is currently 80 people strong and aims to grow exponentially.
Analytics India Magazine interacted with Sai Srinivas Kiran G (SSK), co-founder and CEO, to get an inside picture of MPL and Kaustubh Bhoyar (KB), CTO, to understand the technological drive behind the company’s unprecedented success.
Analytics India Magazine: Tell us about the inception of the MPL platform.
SSK: The idea to start MPL came around April end, last year and we started off with a bunch of us from my apartment and then by June we finally moved to an office setup. It was only in September ’18 that we finally launched the product. It has been an interesting 7 months since then and the moment we have 25 million users on our platform.
AIM: eSports has become a well-established worldwide phenomenon. Where does India stand?
SSK: Mobile Gaming has been gaining momentum in the Indian market with the proliferation of mobile phones and affordable data plans. Annual mobile gaming revenue in India is projected to grow to $943 million in 2022, making India the fastest-growing mobile market in the world by overall revenue, according to a report by POKKT. India is now one of the top five markets for mobile gaming in terms of the number of users.
AIM: Who are your direct competitors?
SSK: Currently, MPL is the only platform offering multiple games and we do not have any direct competitors. While there are multiple apps that involve real money gaming in fantasy sports and a few more, MPL is the only platform offering multiple games of a casual nature like Candy Crush, Temple Run etc. in one place.
AIM: How do you plan to utilise the $35.5 million of funding?
SSK: Our aim is to make the product more robust and bring in different formats of gameplay in which the users can engage. The most important thing is to invest in growth. The idea is to grow as aggressively and as fast as possible. We plan to invest in products and user growth in India. Also, we will use the current funding to grow faster by hiring the right talent to build out the right product infrastructure which will suit not just the Indian market but also the global market.
AIM: Why do you think emerging technology like AI, ML, and analytics is needed in an organisation?
KB: Artificial Intelligence adds a component of flexibility and precision to automation. It helps companies optimise productivity levels and amplify the existing computing power. Machine Learning, a subset of AI, enables a machine to learn its functions and adapt based on the changing business needs. Machine Learning gives crucial insights into large industry data for companies to stay updated on the latest trends. With respect to gaming, analysing millions of hours of player data can provide insight into which elements of the game are popular. Brands can increase user engagement through analytics, revealing when players abandon a game or other detailed insights. This data can be used to identify bottlenecks and issues within gameplay. AI has been an integral part of gaming and, we have also been closely watching the impact of other emerging technologies in the gaming industry. We want to become a technology-driven platform that offers great gaming experience for our users who are on different skill levels.
AIM: When did MPL adopt these and what have been its benefits to date?
KB: Right from the beginning, we were certain on a few technologies which couldn’t be compromised on. We have been investing heavily on the latest technologies which have helped us strengthen the product and the technology. The AI-powered tool has also helped in quick creation and incorporation of all gaming elements.
AIM: How is AI crucial to MPL? Could you explain with a use case?
KB: Data and payment security play an important role for us and as a critical part of our verification process, we ensure the users complete their KYC check on the platform before withdrawing their winnings. Since our launch, we have seen massive installs and right now we have around 25 million odd users on our platform. All our verification tasks are made easier by Verizy.
Verizy’s proprietary algorithm simplifies the first level screening seamlessly by reducing the amount of time otherwise spent manually on verification. Along with this, we also work with Verloop, an AI-based chatbot that helps reduce our turnaround time by simplifying the elementary level exchange between our users and our support team. Once the concern is identified it is seamlessly handed off to our customer support team. It’s been four months since we got the services by Verizy and Verloop on board and all our verification processes have been made seamless by them.
AIM: What are the plans to invest in emerging technologies for MPL?
KB: Yes, we definitely plan on investing in emerging tech in the near future to manage and scale growth. A strong tech team driven by the latest AI technology will help us in creating, automating and customizing more tournaments on our platform which will cater to a wider audience and have a broader outreach.
AIM: What is your roadmap/plans for esports?
SSK: We have grown exponentially in a short time of span. Currently, we have over 25 Million players and host over 30 games, adding more each week. The market potential in India itself is huge and honestly, we have just scratched the surface. We will continue to add more games and formats that our user want. We recently expanded to Indonesia and with this, we are confident of taking MPL to more SEA markets. Investment in people and technologies who will help us achieve these milestones will be our focus for the next few months.