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Garena’s Free Fire poised to return to India with localized features

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Garena, a Singapore-based game developer and digital entertainment arm of Sea Group, is set to relaunch its Free Fire game in India. Scheduled to be available for download on September 5, the rebranded game will be called ‘Free Fire India’.

It may be recalled that Free Fire along with 53 other mobile apps was banned by the Indian government in February last year. The battle royale game was immensely popular in India and globally. According to an App Annie report, it was among the top gaming apps in terms of consumer spending in India in 2021.

The ban on Free Fire in India also sent shockwaves to the parent company, Sea Group. The conglomerate suffered a loss of a whopping $16 billion market cap following the ban in the country.

Garena in a statement said that the company has partnered with Yotta, a Hiranandani Group company, for the local cloud hosting and storage infrastructure for Free Fire India.

“As a MeitY-empanelled service provider, Yotta will ensure best-in-class management of personal data of Indian users on local servers and network connectivity services to support Garena’s product offerings in India, including in esports,” the company said in a statement.

It has also roped in cricketer MS Dhoni as the brand ambassador for the Free Fire game in India.

Other changes include features and content focused on Indian users, and a suite of features aimed at safety and healthy gameplay, such as parental supervision, gameplay limitations, and reminders to take a break.

“Garena’s launch of Free Fire India and commitment to localising and developing the esports ecosystem locally is testament to the vibrancy of the mobile games and esports space in India, and to India’s potential for global leadership in this area. I look forward to greater partnerships in the digital media, entertainment and esports fields between India and Singapore,” HE Simon Wong, High Commissioner of Singapore to India, said at an event.

That said, Garena isn’t the only one to return to India in a new avatar after suffering a ban. South Korean gaming firm Krafton also relaunched Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) in India, following what IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar described as a “trial approval.” The game is also considered to be a rebranded version of PUBG, which was among the first lot of mobile apps to be banned in India following geopolitical tensions with China.

The Indian government has been cracking down on mobile apps in different phases, citing security concerns. This also includes apps related to live streaming, e-commerce, loan apps, and many more. 

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