The Indian government recently banned the country’s most popular mobile game, Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), leaving over 100 million players out to dry.
The ban came as a shock to everyone considering there was no official announcement from developer Krafton or the Indian Government. It was simply taken off the Apple App and Google Play Store.
As reported by Nikopartners, the ban was by the Indian Government’s MeitY branch, which was the same one that had issued bans to more than 300 mobile apps in 2020. Most of these apps were China-based and were banned stating national security concerns regarding data privacy This report also reveals that BMGI and Garena Free Fire, another game which was banned recently in India, “accounted for over 95% of total spend on mobile battle royale games in 2021 and H1 2022”. Krafton also issued a statement on Twitter via Rushindra Sinha, founder of the esports organization, Global Esports.
This is not the first time a video game by Krafton has been banned in India. Back in 2020, PUBG Mobile was the most popular mobile title in the country. However, it was banned by the Indian government which accused the developer of providing data to its partner, Tencent, a Chinese developer. However, to ensure Krafton doesn’t lose out on one of its biggest markets, it cut ties with Tencent and relaunched the game as Battlegrounds Mobile India which was then approved for launch in 2021.
Despite this, a report released in 2021 suggested that BGMI data from Android users was being sent to its servers in China. Several Indian officials had raised their concerns about this scenario and called for a ban on the game as well. While Krafton addressed this and even fixed the situation via an update, the game was still banned in the country.
However, Krafton still has ‘New State Mobile’ (rebranded from PUBG: New State) available in India. It seems that it isn’t on the Indian Government’s radar yet, but there is also no conversation happening around the BGMI ecosystem moving to New State Mobile.
If anything, this ban just put a massive roadblock in the development of esports in one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. The community is still optimistic about the ban being overturned, but given the track record, it is highly unlikely.
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