Update (May 6): the game is officially back as Battlegrounds Mobile India.
PUBG Mobile was one of the biggest smartphone games in India, if not the biggest. It had a cult following and broke all barriers when it came to gaming age limitations. But it has been embroiled in controversy in India for a long time now. And all those controversies finally boiled down to PUBG Mobile being banned in India.
The MEITY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) 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.”
The step was taken post complaints stating that these apps were stealing and sharing data with unauthorized third parties whose servers were located outside India. With a user base of over 33 million at its peak, PUBG Mobile suffered a big blow overnight.
Following the ban, the game continued to work for those who had it downloaded earlier and this number was close to 145 million. But it finally stopped working for those users as well on October 30.
- PUBG Mobile India launch gets closer as company gets incorporated
- PUBG Mobile is set to officially return to India in the form of a new game
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new PUBG Mobile game specifically for India
- Why was it banned? Improper handling of Indian user data
- How much will it cost? Free, with in-app purchases
- Launch date? Awaiting final approval from the government
Why PUBG Mobile was banned in India
Following the ban, PUBG Corp let go of its partnership with Tencent Games in India. PUBG Corporation is a South Korean company that owns the game on all platforms, including smartphones. However, China’s Tencent Holdings has a minority stake in PUBG Mobile globally, which was the problematic element in this case. To tackle this, PUBG Corporation announced that it will take up all the publishing responsibilities of the game in India and will deauthorize Tencent to be involved in the franchise.
Following the severed ties with Tencent in India, PUBG Corp looked to get into business with India companies and even approached Reliance Jio, Airtel and Paytm. Though these attempts also did not seem to materialize.
Following that, reports suggested that PUBG Corp may have engaged a global cloud service providers to store the data of Indian users within the country, which was the primary concern for the ban. The anonymous source also apparently mentioned that PUBG Corp assured high-profile gamers in the country that PUBG Mobile will be back before the end of the year. More news arrived which hinted that PUBG Mobile could be back by Diwali.
Microsoft Gaming 🙂November 7, 2020
Ocean Sharma who happens to be an esports commentator tweeted about “Microsoft Gaming”, hinting at the same. Of course, the tweet was too cryptic to be taken into account.
With the server issue resolved, it was likely that the game could be back. And to that effect streamers and content creators were hinting strongly at the same. Kronten and Ghatak, two professional streamers and PUBG Mobile players made a video hinting at the big news which could be announced soon.
What is PUBG Mobile India?
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.
Some reported that the PUBG Mobile India download link was apparently made live on the website for a very short while. And as always fake links went up all over the internet.
Amidst all this reports claimed that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) may not be convinced just yet. According to a report by the Times of India, a source in the Ministry commented, "Unless they address the concerns, it will be difficult to grant any relaxation."
The developers then reassured the people that even in its new avatar, PUBG Mobile India would apparently retain all the IDs, achievements as well as the cosmetic items that players from India had.
Global PUBG team announced a new update that cut down the size of the game to 650MB, which it mentioned would be the case for an Indian version as well.
PUBG Corp's India company integrated
PUBG Corp then officially registered its India branch as PUBG India Private Limited. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs approved the registration of PUBG India Pvt. Ltd. which is a privately held company under the registrar of companies.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs apparently approved the registration of PUBG India Pvt. Ltd. which is a privately held company under the registrar of companies. The report from Talkesports (opens in new tab)mentions that the incorporation happened on on November 21. Besides this the authorized capital of the subsidiary has been set at Rs 15,00,000 with Rs 5,00,000 as paid-up.
PUBG Mobile India: What's new
PUBG Corp 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.
It is also looking to create a local video game, eSports, entertainment culture along with the related IT industries. This will come in the form of PUBG Corporation creating an Indian subsidiary to better serve and engage the players. Over 100 employees will be hired across verticals such as business, eSports, and game development. The company hasn't publicly listed which positions will be created. The new office will also look at local collaborations and partnerships with other businesses. India-exclusive eSports events and tournaments are also in the pipeline.
Krafton, the parent company of PUBG Corporation, also plans on investing $100 million in India to facilitate the new unit. This is supposed to be the largest investment made by a Korean company, outside of the manufacturing industry.
PUBG Mobile was facing the danger of being banned permanently for a while when the MEITY permanently banned 59 Chinese apps from India that include the likes of TikTok and WeChat, because they could not come up with satisfactory response/explanation.
Following that up Sean Hyunil Sohn, Head Corporate Development at Krafton, commented on the situation at an event that was supported by MRITY and said, "I cannot really tell timing or anything because we don’t know yet. We care about Indian market greatly. We will work hard to make it happen." This is supported by the fact that PUBG Mobile's Hindi viewership is still the second-highest (opens in new tab) among all the languages despite the ban on the game in India.
More recent news suggests that the game could finally be on its way back what with the players like GodNixon and Ghatak hinting at it (opens in new tab). And the recent leaks which suggest that the game has been rebranded to Battlegrounds Mobile India (opens in new tab) with the social media handles being changed also puts up a strong indication. The company has even deleted or archived most of its posts (opens in new tab) on its social media platform meaning it could be gearing up for new things.
PUBG Mobile India release date
Despite all the efforts by PUBG Corp, MEITY seemed less than interested in unbanning the game. Reports (opens in new tab)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." supported this theory, but the new developments still put some hope against hope.
But the question still remains on how long it may take PUBG Mobile India or Battlegrounds Mobile India to really make its debut in India.
Or, more direly, is it possible at all for it to do so? Meanwhile you can check out the best battle royale titles to dabble in with PUBG Mobile gone.