PUBG Mobile was banned in India on Sept. 2, 2020, and the India’s ministry of electronics and IT alleged the game was “transmitting users’ data” in an “unauthorized manner” to servers outside the country.
In another attempt to bring the game back to the country, Krafton, the developer, said it is focused on releasing PUBG Mobile India instead of its newly-announced mobile title, PUBG: New State.
At the Indian Gaming Conference 2021, Sean Sohn, the head of corporate development at Krafton, also said he doesn’t know when it will be released. He added Krafton cares a lot about the Indian market and that it is “working hard” to bring the game back.
With time passing by, Indian players’ hopes of the game’s return are dwindling. It seems that the Indian ministry of electronics doesn’t want PUBG Mobile, which has been under fire in the past for its alleged “addictive” and “violent nature,” to come back.
In an interview with Seoul Economic Daily, Byung-gyu Jang, the chairman of Krafton, said that he wants to bring the game back as quickly as possible and the game’s unavailability was “India’s problem.” The report added that Jang nodded after being asked if the game’s return was a political problem in India.
With Krafton set for a public IPO later this year, the company has been working hard to bring the game back in the country. With no communication from India’s ministry of electronics yet, players will have to wait to see if the game does eventually return. The act under which the game was banned (Section 69A) doesn’t come under India’s Right to Information (RTI) act as well. This means that the action taken under this act is confidential with the public having little knowledge of the happenings behind it.
The news of the game’s ban came as a huge shock to gamers in India. PUBG Mobile was downloaded about 185 million times in India and accounted for 24 percent of the game’s total downloads since its release, according to Sensor Tower. The popular battle royale game also had a budding esports scene in the country, which collapsed after the ban.
While India’s ministry of electronics claimed the game was banned for data privacy concerns, the real reason behind the ban could be rising tensions with China. India banned more than 100 “Chinese” applications after border tensions between the two countries. PUBG Mobile has been developed in a partnership by Chinese company, Tencent Games and South Korean developers PUBG Studio (formerly PUBG Corp.). It has been published by Tencent around the world.
Krafton was quick to make a move to bring the game back to the country. Just six days after PUBG Mobile’s ban, the company announced that it would “no longer authorize” the PUBG Mobile franchise to the Tencent Games.
About two months after this, the company announced PUBG Mobile India, a new title for audiences for the South Asian country. Krafton also pledged a $100 million investment into the country which included a new office and esports league.
Around mid-November, the company started teasing PUBG Mobile India’s release on the Indian festival of Diwali. The festival came and went on Nov. 14, 2020, with no news regarding the game’s release, however.