Homegrown action game FAU-G is set to launch on January 26 on the same day that India will celebrates 72nd Republic Day. Ahead of the launch, there is a lot of interest in the game, with people coming up with questions like if the game will be similar to PUBG Mobile. Earlier this week, the game's developers said that FAU-G: Fearless and United Guards has clocked over 4 million pre-registrations ahead of the launch. The game's pre-registrations are live on the Google Play Store and the game will be launched for both Android and iOS smartphones.
The first trailer of FAU-G: Fearless and United Guards was also made live earlier this month. In October 2020, nCore Games' strategic advisor Vishal Gondal had said that FAU-G will not be a mere alternative to PUBG Mobile and will be one of India’s very first mobile games that will introduce storylines inspired by real-life series. Gondal had highlighted that the first level that FAU-G will launch with is going to be based on India’s Galwan Valley clash with China. He also insists that the gameplay will be different from PUBG Mobile, but at the same time, future updates will bring features such as signature guns and a Battle Royale mode.
Back then, Gondal had also insisted that FAU-G will hopefully be the first-mover in India’s smartphone gaming ecosystem, bringing story-based gameplay, intricate levels, characters and so on.
Earlier, Gondal had told News18 that the entire idea with FAU-G was to not blindly rival PUBG, but instead, offer a layered, level-based gameplay like a more elaborate title (like Elder Scrolls: Blades) does. He says, “We have our own storyline, our gameplay mechanics are different. Our storyline follows activities of the Indian Army. For example, the first level of the game is based on Indian soldiers facing hand-to-hand combat at the Galwan Valley clash with China," Gondal had said.
Gondal also affirmed that the gamification of real-world military events will continue beyond just recent affairs, in a bid to draw inspiration from the activities of Indian soldiers. “Our future missions in FAU-G may include India’s conflicts at Uri, Kargil, other clashes with Pakistan and wars that the country has been engaged in in the past. Going forward, we will certainly be introducing a wider variety of weapons, and even a battle royale mode,” Gondal added. He also said that the game will see the addition of new characters, weapons, game levels, and so on, as part of rolling updates in future.
It is the latter part where nCore Games appears to be taking FAU-G as a more long-term affair. Previous attempts at making games around Indian armed forces, such as the Indian Air Force game ‘IAF: A Cut Above’, were commended for being a fairly decent game to play. Despite the strong initial reaction, IAF: A Cut Above was not a game that garnered enduring reputation. It is this hurdle that Gondal and his team behind FAU-G will have to surpass.
Gondal was an early mover in the field of esports, or online gaming championships, back in 2004. Since then, Gondal has attempted to promote gaming as a profession through his venture called India Gaming, which he later sold to Disney back in 2012. This time, though, the market is different – Internet, gadget, and gaming penetration is far higher than it ever was. Gondal, however, notes that a key problem with the way India’s gaming industry has progressed so far. He says that no one has really invested in gaming in India. "So far, everyone appears to have taken the shortcut and bet on fantasy sports, real money skill games, and so on. These, however, aren’t gaming in the true sense. Even if you look at the mobile app stores, there are no notable Indian games in the market except for Ludo King. In contrast, if you look at Netflix, Prime Video, or YouTube, many of their chart-toppers are Indian. This makes it clear that local content should always perform better than international content (at least in the country). It is this investment gap that we aim to fulfil. The key target is Indian, high quality, gaming content,” Gondal told us.
He also said that the reason why there have been no Indian-built AAA game titles, and minimal Indian contribution to AAA game projects by major studios like Ubisoft (which have studios in India), is because of how much investment there has been in fantasy and real money gaming. It is this notion that Gondal’s nCore Games aims to alter.
Gondal also affirmed that nCore Games aims to be a supporter of competitive esports championships in the long run, once it starts launching its offerings in public domain. Calling FAU-G: Fearless and United Guards a potential of building and supporting an ecosystem around it a “long term bet”, Gondal states that he expects any game to take between six months and two years to stabilise and build a market reputation. “Once we get deeper into esports with our game offerings, we will automatically enter the entire arena of managing a gaming community. That is our long term roadmap,” he told News18 in October 2020.
The only catch, Gondal says, lies in the quality of gaming that FAU-G will manage to achieve. As he underlines, the expectations behind the quality of a mobile game, thanks to the likes of PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, and Call of Duty: Mobile, have increased exponentially.
While there is less than a week for FAU-G to launch, there is no update about PUBG Mobile's Indian version, PUBG Mobile India. The last update about PUBG Mobile India came as a December 2020 response to an RTI application, that said that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said that the government does not grant permissions for starting of any websites or mobile apps service in the country adding that "accordingly, MeitY has not granted permission to PUBG / PUBG mobile India." Notably, in a separate RTI response, the ministry stated that the PUBG Mobile India has not received the government's nod to operate in the country, yet.