A year after PUBG made a comeback in the Indian market with a rebrand as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), it has been given the boot by both Apple and Google. The two tech giants have delisted the BGMI app from their App Store and Play Store respectively in the country.
While Apple did not comment on the matter, Google defended its actions and cited an order it received from the Indian government. “On receipt of the order, following established process, we have notified the affected developer and have blocked access to the app that remained available on the Play Store in India,” the California-headquartered powerhouse informed.
This begs the question, why has BGMI been banned in India? No concrete reason for the same was given, but it is speculated that it is the fallout from a recent report.
The same alleged that a 16-year-old boy had shot and killed his mother over an argument about PUBG, which he had been playing. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & IT, said that there have been instances of banned apps making a comeback to India after a rebrand, and law enforcement was investigating the alleged killing.
“We are clarifying how BGMI was removed from Google Play store and the App store and will let you know once we get specific information” a Krafton spokesperson said in a statement.
PUBG has been among the most played games in India ever since it made its debut in the country. However, it faced a ban back in 2020, along with several other China-origin apps due to continued geopolitical tensions between the two Asian nations. The ban was made citing national security concerns, and highlighted the tensions between nuclear neighbours India and China that flared into skirmishes and face-offs along the Sino-Indian border — one of the world’s most militarised.
In response, PUBG maker Krafton parted ways with Chinese tech giant Tencent, its publishing partner at that time, and renewed its focus on the Indian market. It set up an Indian subsidiary and pledged to put in $100 million in the domestic gaming segment.
Some of Krafton’s investments in the Indian startup ecosystem over the past one-and-a-half years include Nodwin Gaming, Loco, Pratilipi and Kuku FM, and it planned to deploy around $140 million in India in the near future.
Battlegrounds Mobile India, while a PUBG rebrand, was launched specifically for India, and Krafton had assured that user data would be stored locally and that it would adhere to Indian laws. It maintained that BGMI and PUBG were different games and that it had put in additional safeguards — such as login authentication and enforcing a time limit on the usage of its games — in order to prevent misuse.
Like PUBG, Battlegrounds Mobile India grew to be an immensely popular game – Krafton announced earlier this month that it was a “resounding success” and that it surpassed 100 million registered users in the country.
“We have brought in major tournaments, Indian-themed collaborations, and celebrated India-centric events with the community with a goal of curating gameplay unique to our Indian users,” Krafton CEO Changhan Kim said in a statement at that time.