India’s UTV Investing In International Freemium Games Expansion

Can India do a South Korea when it comes to online gaming? Hundreds of thousands of teens there, and in China, lead the way in multiplayer games, spending committed hours at their screens.

Now India’s UTV wants in on the act, setting aside $100 million to invest in freemium games in the U.S., UK and Japan.

Its first, multiplayer roleplay world Mytheon, is set to launch in the U.S. by June after hiring 45 in Austin, with a second title, wargame Reich, to follow after hiring 60 in Florida, FT reports. It’s also hiring 75 in Tokyo.

Activision-Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft is already popular in the west – with 11.5 million people globally paying a monthly subscription to play, it’s one of the Vivendi (EPA: VIV) empire’s biggest moneyspinners.

But the appetite seems to prove there’s more growth potential for new titles. UTV’s approach, at least in Mytheon’s case, is to offer the game for free but with a range of chargeable in-world extras, a lot like Zynga and Playfish games.

Mumbai- and London-listed UTV, of which Disney (NYSE: DIS) owns a third, produces TV, film and animation, including Bollywood movies. FT: “(CEO Ronnie) Mr Screwvala said that, while this genre was highly successful in Asia, generating multibillion-dollar market capitalisations for companies in China, online games were in their infancy in the U.S.”

It has been buying in to games since 2007 – Acquiring Indiagames at home, Ingition Entertainment in the UK and True Games in the States.