In the aftermath of the Government of India banning 118 mostly Chinese made apps, a new title has suddenly sparked interest from gamers in the subcontinent. The list of blocked apps includes PUBG Mobile, which is undoubtedly the most popular videogame in India and has a loyal and dedicated fan base of over 50 Million in the country. The ban on PUBG Mobile has certainly seen a huge reaction from the community but the Government has made it clear that there are concerns that apps on the list were involved in activities related to stealing and misuse of user data.
As the PUBG Mobile ban-unban saga continues, an Indian game called FAU-G (Fearless and United Guards) has emerged to be vying for the attention of local gamers. The timing of the announcement along with its focus on the Indian Army has allowed it to capture mainstream attention, especially with the community looking for alternatives to the now banned PUBG Mobile. The name is a play on the Hindi word for someone associated with the military. We take a look at whether FAU-G can replace PUBG in India, and break down all the information that we currently have on the game.
FAU-G - Worthy Challenger or a Marketing Gimmick?
While FAU-G’s initial announcement was well received after it was shared by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, internet users were quick to find problems with it. The timing of the announcement is one that certainly stands out, coming just two days after the Government of India banned PUBG Mobile in the nation. The actual reveal poster is an edited stock image which indicates that the game is not necessarily close to an actual release. The game has received flak for using a stock image and trying to use the timing to leverage a nationalist sentiment from gamers.
Can FAU-G Replicate PUBG’s Success?
PUBG Mobile’s success has a lot of variables and factors associated with it and the fact that the PUBG brand was already a successful IP only made things easier. Tencent has a lot of experience in building communities and ecosystems given their long standing presence in the global gaming and esports space. On top of that Tencent is a much larger company with a lot more resources and budgets available to market, develop and promote its games.
Given the way the FAU-G announcement was made, it's natural that a lot of comparisons with PUBG Mobile will be on the cards. While we would hope that FAU-G is a polished and complete game, it’s unrealistic to expect nCORE to ship a game with the same level of finesse that Tencent can. On top of that, it seems hard to fathom that FAU-G would become a global brand given how the brand has a distinct Indian-ness attached to itself. To become the next PUBG, the game will have to go beyond just providing incentives to its potential player base, by build an ecosystem from the ground up. The process will require require direction, funding and time and it's unlikely that the brand will able to sustain just on the nationalist sentiment. Veteran games journalist, Rishi Alwani also added context to FAU-G and nCore Games via this Twitter thread:
Free Fire and Call of Duty: Mobile
While its great to see Indian developers using the timing and opportunity to make some noise, it’s not realistic to expect FAU-G to replace a well established game in a few months. The game has already stirred a lot of interest with the announcement, but whether it can actually deliver is something that remains to be seen. A more realistic expectation can be the short term rise in popularity of Garena Free Fire and Call of Duty: Mobile. Both titles have the backing of names like Garena and Activision and have an established IP which is already quite popular both in India and other parts of the world. The two titles also have thriving esports ecosystems and existing domain expertise to sustain their esports programs.
AFK Gaming has reached out to nCORE to understand the state of the game and what the vision is for Fau-G. The story will be updated if and when they respond.