Five days after India banned popular mobile game PUBG Mobile along with 117 other apps with Chinese connection, PUBG Corporation said Tuesday Tencent Games would no longer be its authorized franchise partner, taking the first step to resume the distribution of PUBG Mobile in the country, one of its largest markets.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and its mobile version PUBG Mobile is owned and developed by a South Korean gaming company PUBG Corporation. Tencent Games was the publisher and distributor responsible to make PUBG Mobile available in other countries including India.
“In light of recent developments, PUBG Corporation has made the decision to no longer authorize the PUBG MOBILE franchise to Tencent Games in India. Moving forward, PUBG Corporation will take on all publishing responsibilities within the country,” it said in a blog post. The move is to assure Indian government that by cutting all ties with Tencent, user data will no longer go through servers in China.
In its third instance of banning Chinese apps, India blocked 118 apps last week citing cybersecurity concerns.
PUBG said it fully understood and respected the measures taken by the government as the privacy and security of player data is a top priority for the company. “PUBG Corporation is actively monitoring the situation around the recent bans of PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG MOBILE Lite in India,” it said.
Further, the company said it hopes to “work hand-in-hand with the Indian government to find a solution that will allow gamers to once again drop into the battlegrounds while being fully compliant with Indian laws and regulations.”
PUBG, which had over 40 million monthly active users in the country in July, said it hopes to continue to engage with its player base in India.
Indian companies are hoping the ban on PUBG would create a similar market condition that resulted in the launch of dozens of new short-video apps wanting to claim the market left opened by TikTok’s ban. As soon as PUBG was banned, Indian digital startups started working on local alternatives. Vishal Gondal, founder and CEO of nCore Games, announced he is working on a new action-oriented game called FAU-G (Fearless And United-Guards). The first version of the game will be launched in October.
However, analysts said the entry barrier in mobile gaming is higher than creating a short-video platform and it would take long time for Indian companies to create a PUBG-like gameplay.
“I don’t see any Indian game that has this kind of capability. It is going to be very difficult for Indian gaming companies to capture this opportunity. In this case, mostly US, Japanese, and South Korean games are going to shine, because these countries have a mature gaming market and can provide alternatives. Call of duty, Fortnite are probably the best options for users looking for alternatives,” Sanjeev Kumar, forecast analyst at Forrester, told KrASIA.