During the global pandemic, gaming has been a distraction for people all over the world. For gamers in India having access to the insanely popular mobile platform game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) just got a little bit harder. Recently announced by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology it has received numerous reports that certain apps were “activities that are prejudicial sovereignty integrity and security of the state.” As a result, over 100 apps have been banned from India that have links to China.
The competitive survival shooter game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which is the result of a very popular spin-off from ARMA 2 mod: Day Z is famously the innovator of the Battle Royale genre of multiplayer shooters. While the game was in early access being developed by a Korean company, Bluehole, they were approached by China’s largest games company, Tencent to partner in publishing the game from 2017 onward, shortly after the game exited early access on Xbox and PC platforms. Tencent Games published the mobile game version as a free to play alternative for iOS and Android in 2018, and since then has exponentially increased in popularity in the Chinese and Indian market before competitor Fortnite by Epic Games could release in those regions.
Due to the ban in India, Tencent has lost $34 billion in market value as of September 4th as a result of the ban, and this is their second-biggest financial hit following last month when $66 billion was lost when the President of the United States signed an executive order to ban WeChat, which was also owned by Tencent, alongside the video clip social platform TikTok.
The ongoing dispute between China and India’s borders further complicates this issue. Fortnite developer, Epic Games dealt with a similar situation as their game was removed from both Apple and Google mobile devices because the game created an in-game payment system. The developer sued both companies for the removal of the game from the app store. In the case of Tencent looking to restore PUBG’s functionality to the Indian market, the company made a statement in an attempt to reverse the ban:
“We look forward to engaging Indian authorities to clarify our long-established policy and action in protecting user data and hope to ensure the continued availability of our apps in India.” via BusinessInsiderIndia
In addition to speaking to authorities, Tencent has spoken to Indian PUBG esports teams about plans to move forward. It’s uncertain if the reversal of the ban will bring any of the apps back. Going forward as of September 9th, the PUBG Corporation will handle all publishing of its mobile franchise in India cutting ties with Tencent. “As the company explores ways to provide its own PUBG experience for India in the near future, it is committed to doing so by sustaining a localized and healthy gameplay environment for its fans.” and I put a hyperlink at “cutting ties with Tencent.”
PUBG explosion in popularity has resulted in it becoming the highest-grossing app on India’s list, pulling in $39,000,000 since its release. According to the market intelligence analysis program for mobile apps, Sensor Tower, PUBG Mobile has 175 million installations in India which accounts for 24% of its downloads globally. ESPN credits the popularity of PUBG Mobile to the accessibility to play the game on mobile devices, “The success of PUBG was largely due to the fact that it was the first high-quality Battle Royale style game meant to be played on a smartphone,” says Lokesh Suji, vice president of the Asian Esports Federation. Yet, China doesn’t see the reason for the ban seeing that India has “abused the concept of national security and adopted discriminatory restrictive measures against Chinese companies”, said China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson, Gao Feng at a press briefing. Currently, the game is available for free on PlayStation Plus.