Why Was BGMI Removed from the Play Store and App Store?
Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) is finally making a return after being removed from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store almost ten months ago. The Indian government announced that it is finally allowing Krafton to resume its BGMI operations for a trial period of three months. While Krafton is yet to announce an exact return date for the game, the company’s CEO issued a statement stating that its release is imminent.
However, this positive turn of events begs the question: What led to the restrictions being placed on BGMI in the first place?
Why was BGMI removed from Indian App Stores?
The short answer is: BGMI was removed from the Indian App Stores because the Indian government had privacy concerns about how the company was handling user data.
BGMI had disappeared from the Google Play Store and Apple App store on 28th July, 2022. Krafton did not immediately issue a statement on why exactly the game was removed from India’s app stores.
, Google stated that the government had issued an order to remove the game from its Play Store. “On receipt of the order, following established process, we have notified the affected developer and have blocked access to the app that remained available on the Play Store in India,” said Google.
Following the removal of BGMI from the app stores, Krafton released a statement for its Indian user base that had already crossed the 100 million mark at the time. “Dear Patron of BGMI, we are committed to the Indian market and are positive about the opportunities in the country. At KRAFTON Inc., the security and privacy of our user data is of utmost importance to us. We have always been compliant with all laws and regulations in India, including data protection laws and regulations, and will continue abiding by them," posted Krafton.
News18 that it was a report by the central intelligence agency and communication from the Ministry of Home Affairs to MeitY that triggered a ban on BGMI. According to the report, the move to ask Google to remove the application from the Play Store was taken after multiple rounds of analysis by Indian agencies, since it was “communicating with servers directly or indirectly located in China.”
Later, in India during the company’s quarterly earnings call. He said that the company will cooperate with the Indian government to bring back BGMI in India
"We fully respect and understand the Indian government's concern and as we have been directly running the service based on stringent data security standards and monitoring. We will closely cooperate with the authorities to find ways for the users in India to keep enjoying BGMI," said Bae Dong-Geun.
The Aftermath of BGMI’s ban on Krafton and the Community
As for Krafton, the losses were less substantial, thanks to its greater market hold in countries outside South Asia. According to a “Krafton shares slumped more than 9% on the news, later paring losses to close down 4.5% in Seoul. Tencent Holdings shares fell 4.9% to their lowest since March 15”. The report also mentioned that the company concurs that India accounted for a high single digit percentage of its revenue in the first quarter of this year.
Krafton then went into a recovery stage with constant meetings with government officials as it continued to see a downfall in their market value. Compared to 2021, the sales of the PC and console divisions of Krafton experienced a YoY growth of 17% and 430%, respectively, while the mobile section saw a 12% decrease in Q4 of 2022. During the latest Q4 2023 earning’ call, Krafton CFO Bae Dong-geun admitted “Lower year-over growth is mainly due to restrictions on BGMI services in India".
With the game’s imminent return, Krafton can expect a fresh injection in revenue while the Indian esports industry will also get a breathe of fresh air, considering the disappointing viewership numbers it witnessed during the game’s absense.
Although this causes for celebration, the community as well as Krafton still aren’t out of the woods. Indian Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar has confirmed that this is a 3 month window for the game to prove “it has complied with issues of server locations and data security.” He also confirmed that the government will keep a watch on other elements including “User harm and Addiction” during this trial period.