Battlegrounds Mobile India has been removed from the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store in what appears to be a revival of the government’s ban on the massively popular mobile game PUBG. The game, developed by Korean firm Krafton, used to be published in India by the Chinese company Tencent; it was banned amidst border skirmishes between India and China.
The developer soon relaunched the game with a new name (and censored visuals), and was able to evade government action. Until now.
We have reached out to Google, Apple, Krafton and the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar for comment.
It is unclear why the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology appears to have ordered that the ban be revived; it told the Telangana High Court recently that BGMI and PUBG were different games, and that no states had requested that the former be banned. In a recent parliamentary query’s response, the government said that PUBG was banned, and did not refer to BGMI at all.
The removal of BGMI, as the game is sometimes called, is bound to have a massive impact for the gaming ecosystem in India. Last month, the game crossed over 100 million unique players, which means one in thirteen people in India have at least installed and opened the game. Krafton has promised investments up to $100 million into India, which may be imperiled by the government’s sudden and unexplained decision to ban its landmark property.
This is also a case study for businesses who prefer to go on charm offensives and do diplomacy with the Indian government instead of approaching the courts to get legal recourse; first TikTok, and now BGMI, have both tried everything to get the bans on their services reversed, except for the obvious option of approaching the courts.
And they have both failed, but Krafton has failed a little more spectacularly, as it pumped in millions of dollars in investments after PUBG got banned, and now faces the prospect of having what is likely its biggest revenue stream in India cut off from users.