Games

PUBG Mobile Returns to India After Ban

Massively popular battle royale game PUBG Mobile is returning to India after being banned in September 2020. The app is available in early access on Google’s Play Store under a new name, Battlegrounds Mobile India. The app is available in early access on Google’s Play Store under a new name, Battlegrounds Mobile India. There are some changes to the game itself, like green blood and a new account system.

PUBG developer, Krafton, which filed for an IPO earlier this week, has built a gigantic gaming empire. If the firm is able to raise the target $5 billion from the IPO it will be the largest public offering in its home country, South Korea. The firm has something to celebrate elsewhere in the world, too.

On Thursday, Krafton pulled a major hit with its sleeper hit title, PUBG Mobile, making a return to India, which banned the title more than nine months ago. The world’s second-largest internet market banned over 200 apps last year citing national security concerns. All the apps New Delhi blocked in the nation had links to China.

Every other app that has been banned by India — and pulled by Google and Apple from their respective app stores in the country in compliance with local government orders — remains in that state. ByteDance, whose TikTok app identified India as its largest market, has significantly downsized its team in the country.

This is what makes PUBG Mobile’s return to India all the more interesting. The game, which has been rebranded to Battlegrounds Mobile India in the South Asia market, is available to download from the Play Store for any user in the country — provided they sign up for an early access before the imminent launch.

Even as PUBG Mobile is now using a different moniker, the game follows the same plot, and the identical home screen greets users with the familiar ecstatic background score. Moreover, users are offered a quick and straightforward option to migrate their PUBG Mobile accounts to the new app.

Rishi Alwani, a gaming reporter in India who edits IGN India, told TechCrunch that the new game is “essentially PUBG Mobile with data compliance, green blood, and a constant reminder that you’re in a ‘virtual world’ with such messaging present as you start a game and when you’re in menus.”

Krafton, on its part, has taken steps to assuage India’s concerns. For instance, last year the South Korean firm cut ties with its publishing partner Tencent, the only visible Chinese affiliation — if the Indian government was indeed banning just Chinese apps. Krafton also publicly announced that it will be investing $100 million in India’s gaming ecosystem.

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