A communication from leadership at Galaxy Racer (GXR HQ) headquarters in Dubai informed full-time staff members at Galaxy Racer India (GXR India) of some good news: the company would keep the offices open for an additional—but conditional—six month period.
Prior to the news, sources tell The Esports Advocate, GXR planned to shut the offices down and lay off the seven full-time employees that worked there. Staff knew that layoffs might be coming, as evidenced by many of them reaching out to friends and colleagues within their networks, asking if they had any job openings.
The fear of being laid off was compounded by the fact that GXR HQ was three months behind in pay to GXR India. This would happen from time to time, sources tell us, but the company would eventually catch up and pay everyone. Sources tell TEA that staff were informed on Monday that a payment had arrived on Monday and would be credited to employee accounts sometime this week.
So what development changed the minds of GXR management to continue keeping the India division open for at least another six months? A game.
According to sources, Garena’s announcement that its popular mobile battle royale game Free Fire would be returning to India later this month is what changed GXR’s mind. At the time the game was banned by the Indian government citing national security concerns (February of 2022), GXR had a number of content creators generating a modest amount of revenue from Free Fire content for the company. But over time as it became clear that the government wasn’t going to reverse course on the popular mobile game, viewership numbers for those content creators cratered and collapsed.
With Free Fire returning, GXR expects that a combination of content and competitions within India will enable the team in the region to generate revenue to be a sustainable and maybe even a profitable division eventually.
TEA reached out to GXR last week for comment but the company has not responded, as of this writing.
This story is a testament to the popularity of Free Fire in India; According to data from Sensor Tower the battle royale game was the most downloaded game in 2021, with 218M downloads on mobile devices (iOS, Android). It was also the most downloaded mobile game worldwide in January 2022—a month before its ban, with 24M downloads, a 51.6% increase over January 2021, according to Sensor Tower. According to Sensor Tower data, the most downloaded mobile game in June 2023 worldwide was Free Fire (including Free Fire MAX), with nearly 19M downloads. The country with the most downloads of Free Fire during this period was India with 27.9% of that total, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam with 12.7% and 8.1%, respectively. Finally, Sensor Tower data shows that Free Fire generated $1.1B in revenue from January to December 2021.
On a related note, Garena announced that India will have to wait a “few more weeks” for the game to be re-released—the game was tentatively set for release on Monday (Sept. 5). The extra time will be used to fully localize the game for India and refine gameplay, according to a Garena announcement.