Battlegrounds Mobile has premiered in India, bringing the PUBG universe back to the country after PUBG Mobile was banned eight months ago. However, while this has given plenty of reason to cheer for professional gamers as well as casual ones, a key clause included as part of Battleground Mobile’s official press release stated that the game will be strictly limited to India and Indian gamers. Given that international esports tournaments were one of the biggest reasons that helped PUBG Mobile gain such a massive footing in India, does this mean that PUBG’s return to the Indian mobile gaming and esports space would be a half-hearted one?
Quite the contrary
Animesh Agarwal, who goes by his gamer ID ‘8bit Thug’, tells News18 that it may not be necessary that Indian esports aspirants and PUBG Mobile fans would be ironed out of the international PUBG and esports ecosystem. “Krafton already operates Peacekeeper Elite in China, and while it is a different game for regulatory reasons, it is still very much within the PUBG universe. With it, we have seen massive esports tournaments being organised for the game in China, and even professional Indian esports teams such as Team Soul and Fnatic India (now withdrawn) have represented us in such tournaments,” says Agarwal
As a result, he adds that just because Battlegrounds Mobile is specifically restricted to India does not mean that Indian gamers and esports entities would be completely ironed out of getting an international gaming experience. Agarwal, who started off as an aspiring gaming enthusiast and has been noted as a proficient name in the PUBG Mobile pro gamer ecosystem, today runs his own esports organisation, 8bit Creative – something that international exposure has likely contributed a fair share to.
Lokesh Suji, director of the Esports Federation of India (ESFI), agrees. As he told News18, “While we are yet to see the game, Krafton locking down Battlegrounds Mobile to India only may not be a bad thing. India was the second largest market for PUBG Mobile prior to its ban, so the size of the gamer pool in the country is massive. This means that India itself can be sufficiently large enough to keep professional gamers invested and interested.”
“In fact, given Krafton’s already established popularity, Battlegrounds Mobile can also attract international participants from taking part in global standard esports tournaments held within India, which can then also attract all the alluring aspects of global competitions such as headlining sponsors, global crowds and more,” Suji adds. Such a model, both Agarwal and Suji state, has already been a proven success in China, and may therefore be a successful one in India, too.
Splitting the experience?
Does this, however, still divide the general experience of the game from region to region? Agarwal states, “Different versions of the PUBG Mobile mothership have existed in various countries for a long time, so this isn’t exactly surprising or unseen. While we are yet to see the game for ourselves, I expect the overall experience to remain comparable to what we were already used to.”
ESFI’s Suji stated that Battlegrounds Mobile, in fact, might just give a bigger boost to gaming and esports in India, than splitting up the global PUBG experience. “Having the game tailored to the exact requirements of India can help give a bigger boost among a wider number of gamers across the country. Instead of hurting the international prospect of the game, this can in turn help set up bigger tournaments and a bigger scale of gaming activities than what we have seen yet,” he adds.
Stakeholders in the Indian gaming and esports ecosystem are therefore betting big on the Battlegrounds Mobile experience matching up to the global PUBG universe standards. A spokesperson for Krafton did not respond to queries regarding the esports model that the publisher hopes to setup in the coming months, at the time of publishing.