At the time of its ban, PUBG Mobile was one of India’s most played mobile games with over 50 million users. The game’s ban in September along with over 100 other Chinese apps happened due to its links with Tencent. Since then, PUBG Corp. has left no stone unturned in trying to get the game back into the country. The South Korean company said it would create a new Indian subsidiary to oversee the title, and that the game would “maximize data security and cater to local preferences”, while also pledging to invest $100 million in the Indian “gaming, esports, entertainment, and IT industries.”
PUBG Corporation Played Its Cards Right
Earlier this year, PUBG Mobile along with other popular apps like TikTok and WeChat were banned as the Indian government cited complaints it received about such apps ‘stealing and transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers located outside India. This led to PUBG Corp. taking its first steps towards an unban, cutting ties with Tencent, thus distancing the game from the Chinese conglomerate as tensions between India and China continued to run high. The announcement said “PUBG Corporation has made the decision to no longer authorize the PUBG MOBILE franchise to Tencent Games in India. Moving forward, PUBG Corporation will take on all publishing responsibilities within the country. 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.”
This was followed by an announcement that PUBG Mobile would be hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud. PUBG Corp. announced plans to maximize data security and add other elements which would ‘customize’ the game for the Indian user. This included certain PG restrictions like having fully clothed characters, green blood splatter and limits on playtime. PUBG Mobile India will frame themselves as a ‘virtual training ground’, perhaps an attempt to distance itself from real-world mishaps related to the game. As industry analyst Danial Ahmad noted, many of these changes are the same as those in the Chinese version of PUBG Mobile called Game For Peace.
He also noted that while PUBG Mobile is still technically banned, Indian regulators would either need to overturn it, or simply allow this custom version to launch.
But Will It Pay Off?
It looks like PUBG Corporation has resolved the issues that the Indian government had initially raised. With the data now slated to be stored in India by Azure, some within the industry say that meeting those concerns is not all it would take. After all, no app which had been banned in the last few months has made a comeback. TikTok, which was banned in the earlier rounds has still not managed to return despite several months of negotiations with the government. It is interesting to note that TikTok also pledged investments in the country similar to what PUBG Corp has announced now.