India continues to resist PUBG Mobile's re-entry - here's why

PUBG Mobile India
(Image credit: PUBG Mobile India)

PUBG Mobile India may have been announced, but that does not mean that it can be launched in India yet. The federal ministry of electronics and information technology (MEITY) is still not interested in reinstating the game. Though the developers and the fans may be pulling at their leashes, the task may not be as easy as it appears. 

We last reported that the newly formed Indian company executives of PUBG have been repeatedly requesting the ministry for a meeting. But according to reports, the Ministry is yet to grant the request for the meeting. "The proposed meeting will decide if permission to relaunch can be granted to PUBG or not."  It added, "In the current circumstances it will not be easy for the game to relaunch before January -February next year and that too will depend on the stance of the government."

Possible reason why MEITY is uninterested

The ministry banned PUBG Mobile alongside 118 apps on September 2 because they “are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order.” But with passage of time with inaction, the PUBG Mobile India officials seem rather frustrated. 

The developers have since tried to get on the good side of the Ministry but experts believe that the Ministry can't just play favourites and remove the ban since the developers just made amendments to match the laws. This would open the floodgates for other banned apps and developers doing the same and ask to be reinstated.

The ban, which was effected post the June 15 skirmish on the China borders in Galway Vally, continues to simmer. Which could also be a reason the government isn't keen to remove the ban. 

PUBG Mobile India: The attempt to come back

Following the ban PUBG Corp let go of its partnership with Tencent Games in India, and looked to team up with other Indian companies which did not seem to materialize. It then registered its own company for the purpose. It was recently reported that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has apparently approved the registration of PUBG India Pvt. Ltd. which is a privately held company under the registrar of companies.

The company then announced PUBG Mobile India as a new game designed keeping the local interests in mind. Addressing the data storage concerns, it will conduct frequent audits and verifications on the storage systems to ensure that the Indian users’ personal information is safely managed.

Additionally, there will be region-exclusive tweaks to reflect local needs. For starters, the new game will be set in a virtual simulation training ground. TechRadar is awaiting clarity on whether this means that existing maps will not make it to the new game or if it is an additional game mode. 

All characters will also start clothed in the Indian version, unlike the previous one where they would be in their undergarments. Effects such as bleeding will be replaced with green hit marks to signify the virtual nature of the game. To promote healthier gameplay habits and control how much time users spend in PUBG Mobile India, the game will also introduce a feature that will restrict extended sessions.

Despite all these efforts it seems like MEITY is less than interested in unbanning the game. Reports quoting sources in the ministry say, "Any banned entity can’t operate just by floating new company. Even TikTok or anyone else can do that. They will have to get permissions from MEITY to operate once again in India."

This raises questions on how long it will take PUBG Mobile India to really make its debut in India.

Or, more direly, is it possible at all for it to do so?

Bodhisatwa Ray

Hardcore gamer, gadget enthusiast & cinema buff | Gaming, tech correspondent & reviewer at TechRadar