PUBG gamers in India have not had a pleasant last few hours, most certainly. As part of the third crackdown on Chinese-owned apps and online platforms, the Government of India has now banned PUBG, the incredibly popular battle royale game that was pretty much a permanent fixture on the top of the charts on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. In fact, around 25% of all of PUBG’s global gamer base came from India—with online analytics firm SensorTower confirming in numbers over the summer that PUBG has seen more than 175 million game installation in India.
In fact, yesterday’s third crackdown on Chinese owned apps included a total of 118 apps, including Ludo World, APUS Launcher, Ulike, AliPay, Super Clean - Master of Cleaner, Phone Booster, Tencent Weiyun, Baidu, FaceU, AppLock Lite and Cleaner - Phone Booster. This comes after the Government of India banned 59 apps on June 29 and followed that up with a second crackdown almost a month later by banning 47 more apps that cloned the apps previously restricted in India. News18 has been covering the app ban in detail, and what it means for the large fan following that PUBG has across India. We have put these together to help you navigate the fast-changing landscape and in particular, what the PUBG ban means for us.
This is how it all started. The crackdown has been done deriving powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India.
The PUBG Mobile community has given rise to professional gamers including a number of competitive teams from India representing the country at various global-level tournaments and competitions. PUBG Mobile has also pushed the live game streaming industry in India with a large number of content creators earning good money. A bit more on what the ban potentially means for the more serious gamers.
The Esports Federation of India said there was no panic in the market and that the esports industry was not solely dependent on just one game. The federation’s director Lokesh Suji named other games that he felt could benefit in these games and he also said that the game developers in India have this opportunity to innovate in the market.
Still, social media wasn’t happy at all. In less than an hour of the Centre’s order to ban the gaming app, people flooded the social media as they expressed sadness over the ban, making PUBG the top Twitter trend in the world. Many on Twitter also wondered if PUBG even qualified as a Chinese app.
The big question—what do I play if I cannot play PUBG? Making things worse is the fact that three very popular PUBG Mobile alternatives – Creative Destruction, Cyber Hunter and Rules of Survival, have also been banned in India. But worry not, there are still some alternatives you can download on your Android phone or Apple iPhone. Garena Free Fire, Call of Duty and more.
After the outpouring of sadness came the memes. It is as inevitable as day after night. We do have consensus on one thing—Indian parents are the happiest lot. Or are they? Time will tell.
Once bitten, twice shy. Indian gamers are busy Googling to see if Call of Duty, perhaps their saviour now, is also a Chinese app. Google search results do not lie. It may be that Call of Duty Mobile is likely to become the top choice to replace the popular battle royale title in gaming tournaments.
Indians are still rubbing their eyes in disbelief. The search trends for whether PUBG is a Chinese app or not spiked. It is a complex answer.
This is more a case of Indians trying to get PUBG to break up with Chinese tech company Tencent, and return home. Just prepare for the worst please, it will not happen. Or it may. We still do not know the fate of TikTok and it’s sale.
Will we see an Indian app developer creating an alternative to PUBG Mobile? The push for Aatmanirbhar App Innovation would certainly hope that happens. It was in July that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India and the Niti Aayog launched the Aatmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge giving a push to Indian app developers to create alternative home-grown apps for otherwise popular apps across categories and genres.
Have you downloaded Call of Duty Mobile yet? COD is primarily an Activision property a well-known US-based video game publisher. The mobile adaptation of the game, however, is developed in association with TiMi Studios which is a subsidiary of Tencent. Yup, the same Tencent that has a big hand in the development of PUBG Mobile.