In this article, I talk about why PUBG was banned in India, the aftermath of the ban, the PUBG Community, the user money spent on PUBG and the alternatives to PUBG.
When PUBG Mobile got launched in 2018 for Indian users, it took the country by storm.
Not just in terms of people rushing to download the game, but there were tell-tale signs of the culture itself all round – from PUBG themed restaurants to the game’s signature level-three helmet sold at thrift shops.
It is estimated that in India alone there are over 50 million PUBG users.
According to a report, PUBG was one of the top mobile games in the country in 2019.
It was ranked first in terms of monthly active users and consumer spends.
The official PUBG Mobile India YouTube page alone has some 2.15 million subscribers.
PUBG’s interactive features allow gamers to communicate with one another using text and voice, and users say that these make it a unique mobile game in a country where millions of gamers cannot afford gaming consoles.
For tens of millions of gamers in India, PUBG video game was a welcome distraction from the coronavirus pandemic.
Some people feel that playing the game was a “stress-buster” for them
There was a massive spike in the number of users who downloaded PUBG during this pandemic period.
A report stated that the game was downloaded over 175 million times since the lockdown began.
1.Why PUBG got banned in India?
India had banned the PlayerUnkown’s BattleGrounds, or PUBG, as it is commonly referred to among millions of e-sports gamers in the country.
PUBG app was banned on Sep2, 2020 along with 117 other apps.
The popular battle royale game was pulled from both app stores (Apple & Android) after the Indian government passed the order which banned both PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite.
This is isn’t the first time that PUBG has faced backlash in India.
The game was mired in controversies, was accused of being too violent, addictive and, a persistent source of distraction for students.
The Indian government mentioned the reason behind this ban as “they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”
The Ministry of Electronics and Information technology said that it received several complaints from various sources, including several reports about the misuse of some of the apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting user data to servers located outside India.
The official press release stated that all these apps have been “banned under section 69A of the Information Technology Act”.
2.The Aftermath of the ban
Originally the game was made for computers by a South Korean company.
Tencent, a Chinese company made PUBG Mobile and PUBG Lite under license from the Korean company.
Tencent first set its eyes on India in 2017 when it pumped in $700 million into India’s most valuable E-com venture at the time – Flipkart and another $1.1 billion into the cab-hailing service Ola.
Already leading in China, the technology behemoth was looking at India’s market to provide the growth it needed to keep up valuations.
One year down the line, after a soft launch in China, it released PUBG to the rest of the world.
India is an enormous market for PUBG Mobile and the game publisher Tencent Games, a major stakeholder lost $34 billion after the ban was passed.
Tencent had launched PUBG Mobile (the lighter version of the game), which consumes less mobile data and runs smoothly on cheaper phones, in a bid to woo even more Indian players who would potentially spend on the app in the future
But when it comes to revenue, Indian mobile application users aren’t known to be big spenders.
Despite making up PUBG’s largest user base, spending is less than 5%
The ban has caused Tencent to lose nearly $34 billion, as the stock traded 3% lower.
This is the promoter’s second-largest dip since the company lost $66 billion when the USA banned Wechat.
3.The PUBG Community
The ban on PUBG in India has hit professional gamers hard.
The PUBG ban has left India’s gaming industry in a fix.
PUBG Mobile was one of the major driving factors behind the growth of gaming and e-sports in India with a large part of investments within the space concentrated around the PUBG Mobile ecosystem of events, broadcasts, and content.
The most unfortunate outcome of this sudden move is that it now leaves thousands of players, and hundreds of organizers, journalists, broadcasters, etc with an uncertain future as PUBG e-sport was indirectly responsible for their jobs.
The Indian e-sports and gaming community suffered a rude shock.
The ban has put Indian e-sports organizations in a dilemma.
With PUBG Mobile Pro League – Fall Split 2020: South Asia(PMPL) round the corner, thousands of dollars on the line along with the livelihood of thousands of professional and aspiring pro players.
According to the industry big-wig, the Pro-Gamers are the worst hit and are caught in this crossfire.
Well-known persons from the e-sports industry say that “It is the largest single entertainment source for India after cricket.
PUBG Mobile does not exist in China, where it was refashioned and launched as “Game for Peace” in 2019 after failing to get regulatory approvals from the Chinese authorities who felt PUBG Mobile was too violent.
For casual gamers, there is an immediate short-term impact because of this ban.
4.What happens to your money spent on PUBG Mobile?
Some PUBG players in India have spent thousands of rupees to buy so-called Royal Passes, a way to earn quick rewards and have access to special missions in the game.
After the PUBG Mobile ban, many people are worried about their money, which they had invested in the game for buying skins, Royale pass, and more.
PUBG Mobile has not provided any statement about this.
But, most possibly players will have to raise a dispute regarding this on the respective app stores to get their money back.
5.Alternatives for the PUBG App
India is developing home-grown PUBG alternatives
If you have been a fan of the royal game and do not want to switch to another game, you might have to switch devices to keep playing PUBG.
PUBG is still available on PC, PS4, as well as Xbox.
PUBG PC and PUBG Console are developed by PUBG Corporation owned by Bluehole, located in Korea.
Tencent Games does have a stake in BlueHole, but the game servers and all resources are based out of Korea and not China.
Notably, PUBG PC costs around Rs. 1,000/- and requires some serious power to run smoothly.
PUBG Console will run smoothly on all supported consoles and also costs around Rs. 1,000/-
Despite the mixed reactions to the PUBG ban, most stakeholders in gaming agree that national security reasons are of utmost importance, and any company that is a potential “threat to the safety, security, and sovereignty of the Indian cyberspace” ought to be monitored.
The move would safeguard the interests of Indian mobile and internet users while presenting a great opportunity for indigenous home-grown game development studios to showcase their talent and create exciting game formats as part of the #VocalforLocal and #AatmanirbharBharat initiatives.
But, all stakeholders agree that this is an opportunity for other battle royale games to attract new users.
India is developing its alternatives to PUBG Mobile like Raji: An ancient epic
We will see more and more Indian alternatives pop-up as the Indian government is also supporting Made in India mobile game hackathons to keep Indians entertained and self-reliant.
And this brings us to the end of the article. I hope you got some insights from this article.
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