PUBG MOBILE Under Scrutiny in India

The threat of a ban on PUBG MOBILE looms in India as the nation cracks down on Chinese apps due to the deteriorating geopolitical relations between the two nations. The Economic Times reported that 275 Chinese apps are on India’s radar including PUBG MOBILE. The move comes after India banned 59 Chinese apps in June, including Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Clash of Kings. India accounts for nearly 175M downloads, according to app intelligence firm, Sensor Tower. This makes it the biggest market for PUBG MOBILE with 24% of the total downloads. 

Following the violent Galwan Valley clashes between the Indian Army and PLA on June 15, India began tightening security and scrutinizing anything and everything with ties to China. On June 29, India banned 59 Chinese apps citing that they “engaged in activities which [are] prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.” Reacting to this, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that they were “strongly concerned regarding the decision of the Indian government” and that the Indian government has a responsibility to uphold the legal rights of international investors, including Chinese ones. 

A report in the Economic Times Monday noted that India is now planning to ban more apps and has prepared a list of 275 apps which will be checked for any violations of national security and user privacy. Among other names, the list includes PUBG MOBILE and the report reads that, according to their source, “The government may ban all, some, or none from the list.”

A full list of the apps being reviewed by the Indian government was not released by ET.

If the game is banned, it will be a big blow to not just Tencent, who would lose its biggest market, but to India as well, whose esports ecosystem is built on the back of PUBG MOBILE’s popularity. From influencers, streamers, and content creators to professional teams, players, and tournament organizers, the Indian esports experience is largely synonymous with PUBG MOBILE. In addition, seven Indian teams are also competing currently at PUBG MOBILE World League, Season Zero. 

A ban on the title could also have a potential waterfall effect. Tencent-owned properties such as Call of Duty: Mobile; Supercell titles such as Clash Royale, Clash of Clans, and Brawl Stars; are also likely to come under scrutiny. In fact, Riot Games, who recently showed a commitment to the region with plans of launching servers for VALORANT and is actively promoting titles such as Legends of Runeterra and Teamfight Tactics, is also owned by Tencent. Being a mobile-first ecosystem, India is also a big whale for a title like Riot’s Wild Rift, which is set to release at a date to be determined in India by the end of 2020.

Shounak Sengupta is a staff writer for AFK Gaming.

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