Indian esports was on an upward trajectory with the arrival of PUBG Mobile. With its subsequent banning, there is a void in the Indian scene for another competitive game to take its place. Now, Call Of Duty: Mobile and Free Fire have emerged as top contenders. While these games have been around for a while now, the banning of PUBG Mobile is sure to see many players move to either title. This leaves us with the question; if COD Mobile does indeed come on the top, does it risk getting banned because of its Chinese connection? Let us look into it.
The Indian Government had banned 59 Chinese applications in June and then suspended 47 more apps that operated as clones. With the earlier ban, most of the games that were suspended had strong Chinese-links with apps like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Clash of Kings on the chopping block. Even though PUBG Mobile had survived that wave, it found itself under the scanner with others. A later wave of bans 118 apps saw PUBG Mobile finally fall.
There are different dimensions that govern a potential ban on COD Mobile such as ownership, how Activision severed ties with Tencent, and the similarities and differences between PUBG Mobile and Call Of Duty: Mobile that could lead to the ban.
Call of Duty’s origins can be traced back decades. The popular phenomenon was created by American tech company Activision. Call Of Duty: Mobile also has its origins with Activision but was developed in partnership with TiMi Studios, a subsidiary of Tencent Games. Tencent is a major Chinese multinational conglomerate whose role as publisher of PUBG Mobile saw the game get banned. Tencent also had a 5% ownership stake in Activision, which could have warranted a ban on Call Of Duty: Mobile, similar to that on PUBG Mobile. Garena has published the game in Southeast Asia.
Following recent developments in American politics and President Donald Trump’s Anti-China position, Activision swiftly cut off ties with Tencent and TiMi Studios. This is evident as their names no longer appear on the loading screen which means that Activision now fully owns the game.
The differences certainly are the fact that PUBG Mobile is still connected to Tencent Games while COD Mobile has parted ways with the Chinese conglomerate and has moved on entirely in the hands of Activision which is an American company. Another important factor is how a large segment of the Indian population was vocal about banning PUBG Mobile while the same can’t be said about COD Mobile.
The only similarity is that PUBG Mobile and COD Mobile were at some point of time owned by a Chinese company, namely Tencent Games. This means that while the government cannot point to data mining happening currently by the Chinese in COD Mobile, they could point to its past and use that as a reason.
It is highly unlikely that Call Of Duty: Mobile will get banned because of Activision distancing themselves from Tencent, thus removing whatever traces of Chinese production and involvement they had. Nevertheless, if the government decides their previous ties with the Chinese developer matters, it may want to bring down the ban hammer.