A Fact-Based Timeline of PUBG Mobile’s Ban and Re-Launch as Battlegrounds Mobile India

A Fact-Based Timeline of PUBG Mobile’s Ban and Re-Launch as Battlegrounds Mobile India

Abhimannu Das
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  • Ever since the Indian government blocked access to PUBG Mobile last year, there has been a lot of speculation around its return.
  • Here is a facts-based timeline of events leading up to the return of the game as the India-exclusive Battlegrounds Mobile India.
  • Battlegrounds Mobile India is confirmed for release but pre-registrations are yet to open up.

PUBG Mobile was banned on September 2, 2020 and there has since been a lot of speculation surrounding the game. PUBG studio KRAFTON has taken measures to ensure its new India-exclusive game abides by necessary regulations in the country. With the game finally set to return, here is a timeline of the entire saga of the game’s ban in 2020 and its revival in 2021 as Battlegrounds Mobile India. All of the information listed below is based on facts verified by AFK Gaming.

The Timeline of PUBG Mobile’s Ban and Re-Release

September 2, 2020 – Access to PUBG Mobile Blocked in India

The Indian government blocked access to PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite along with 116 other apps deeming these apps to be prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India. 

September 8, 2020 – PUBG Mobile Cuts Ties With Tencent

PUBG Corporation made the decision to no longer authorize the PUBG MOBILE franchise to Tencent Games in India. PUBG Corporation announced that it had taken on all publishing responsibilities within the country.

October 3, 2020 – Tencent Games Terminated Services For Indian Users

All PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite users in India could no longer access the game officially. Tencent Games terminated its services for both titles within the country.

November 7, 2020 – KRAFTON Partners With Azure

KRAFTON announced its partnership with Microsoft Azure to host PUBG Mobile among other products on its servers. 

November 12, 2020 – PUBG Mobile Announced An $100 Million Investment in India and Announces PUBG Mobile India

PUBG Mobile revealed that it would be making a $100 Million USD investment in the country to "cultivate the local video game, esports, entertainment, and IT industries.” It stated that it would create an Indian subsidiary of PUBG Corporation to enhance communications and services with players. 

The company also announced its plans to hire over 100 employees specializing in business, esports, and game development and collaborate with local companies to strengthen its presence in the country.

On the same day, the studio also announced PUBG Mobile India, - a version of the app exclusively for India. This was expected to address several privacy concerns through regular audits and verifications on the storage systems holding Indian users’ personally identifiable information. 

PUBG Mobile India also included additional features tailored for Indian gamers, like having new characters automatically starting clothed, green hit effects, and a feature that placed restrictions on game time for younger players.

November 14, 2020 – PUBG Mobile Releases Teaser Ad

PUBG announced its re-release in India through a teaser featuring popular Indian PUBG Mobile content creators Dynamo, Jonathan, and Kronten. This video was later taken down.

November 21, 2020 – PUBG India Pvt. Ltd. Registered as a Company in India.

PUBG India Private Limited officially registered itself with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on November 21, 2021. Kumar Krishnan Iyer and Hyunil Sohn were registered as the directors of PUBG India Pvt. Ltd. The latter is the Head Of Corporate Development at KRAFTON Inc. / PUBG Corporation. PUBG India is a subsidiary of the companies mentioned above.

December 22, 2020 – KRAFTON Appointed A Country Manager for India

KRAFTON appointed Aneesh Aravind as the country manager for India. Aneesh Aravind has several years of experience in the gaming industry, having worked with massive organizations like Tencent and Zynga. He was the Business Head for South Asia during his time at Tencent and worked as a Lead Product Lead for Zynga’s FarmVille & Empires & Allies.

January 8, 2021 – PUBG Mobile India Was Not Granted Permissions by MEITY

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) responded to a Right to Information (RTI) filing, stating that the “MEITY does not grant permission for starting of any websites / mobile Apps / service. Accordingly, MEITY has not granted permission to PUBG / PUBG mobile India.”

January 25, 2021 – KRAFTON Updated Its Stance on PUBG Mobile’s Re-Release

KRAFTON made a statement revealing, “We are continuing to communicate and work with the Indian government to rerelease PUBG Mobile in the Indian market. However, we cannot yet reveal details on the current progress (such as the release date of the game)."

February 24, 2021 – KRAFTON Hired New Regional Head for India, Middle-East and North Africa

PUBG and PUBG Mobile studio KRAFTON Inc. hired YOZOO Games’ former CEO Anuj Tandon as its new Regional head for India, Middle-East, and North Africa. Tandon is now a part of KRAFTON, and he is involved in KRAFTON’s strategy, investments, mergers & acquisitions, new businesses, and more for India and the Middle-East market. 

February 24, 2021 – KRAFTON Announced PUBG: New State

PUBG: New State, a new title for Android and iOS developed by KRAFTON, Inc. and PUBG Studio was announced. Pre-registrations were, however, not available in India, Vietnam, and China.

February 28, 2021 – Indian Union Minister Shared His Thoughts on PUBG Mobile

Indian Union Minister Prakash Javadekar stated at the opening ceremony of the virtual exhibition and prize announcement of 'Khel Khel Mein’ that many games played on mobile and other gadgets are "violent, explicit, addictive and tend to create a complex in the mind of children. PUBG was just one example of it, but criticizing those games is not the solution. The solution is to create our own games and apps in line with #MakeInIndia for the world so that these are adopted world over for their basic values that are an integral part of our Indian ethos.”

March 9, 2021 - NODWIN Gaming Raised INR 164 Crore ($22,400,000) From KRAFTON

Indian esports tournament organizer, NODWIN Gaming, raised INR 164 Crores ($22.4 Million USD) from KRAFTON. On being asked about PUBG Mobile’s return to India, NODWIN responded to AFK Gaming stating “I've asked this question to Sean (head of corporate development at Krafton), one of the guys from Krafton, very simply in a conference where we had a fireside chat His answer was the right one. They are trying, they will continue to go out and try, they are invested in this market, it is a very important market and they're a Korean company. What happens after that is something that will come out of efforts on all sides to go ahead and make it happen.”

March 31, 2021 – KRAFTON reaffirmed its commitment to release a new app specifically designed for the Indian market.

Indian YouTuber GodNixon Gaming recently posted a video that claimed that the Indian government had given approval for PUBG Mobile India. He claimed that all steps towards the release of the game are now complete, with the exception of a release date announcement. 

AFK Gaming reached out to KRAFTON for a comment on the matter. A representative responded, stating that this information "is not official," according to his understanding. The company representative reaffirmed, “As part of our commitment to the Indian market, KRAFTON is in full force to release the new app, specially designed for India, to create a new and redefined battlegrounds experience for Indian gamers.”

April 29, 2021 – KRAFTON Donated INR 1,50,00,000 ($202,653) to PM Cares Fund

KRAFTON announced a contribution of INR 1,50,00,000 ($202,653) to the PM Cares fund via the company’s Indian subsidiary. KRAFTON made the contribution to solidify India’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

May 6, 2021 – Battlegrounds Mobile India Officially Announced By Krafton

KRAFTON announced ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India’ which will be the India-exclusive battle royale the studio had been working on following the ban of PUBG Mobile in the country. The new game will release with exclusive outfits, features, and in-game events as well as a separate esports ecosystem.

RELATED:  Battlegrounds Mobile India Officially Announced By Krafton

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Abhimannu is a PC esports writer at AFK Gaming. With over seven years of experience in esports journalism, he has worked on a myriad of games and their ecosystems including Valorant, Overwatch and Apex Legends.

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