Why Did India Quietly Remove Popular Battle-royale Game?

Battle royale style game and a popular alternative to the banned PUBG Mobile, BGMI or Battlegrounds Mobile India has been quietly removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in India from Saturday.

The government was concerned about the data security and mining of the app in China, a source close to the government told Reuters news agency.

The ban has caused a stir on social media, with fans, players and stakeholders in the gaming economy disapproving of the government’s decision to take the game off shelves despite a relaunch (against PUBG) in accordance with Indian laws.

“BGMI prohibited. Fine, I accept it. Ban these now…” a person tweetedciting more than a dozen popular Indian apps like Byjus, BigBasket, Flipkart, Ola, Oyo, Paytm, Swiggy, and Zomato, among others, which are getting support from Chinese investors like Alibaba, Tencent, Foxconn, among others.

Google has confirmed that it has removed the app from its India Play Store”upon receipt of the order, according to the established process.” Apple hasn’t commented on the ban yet, but the statesman can confirm that the app is not available on the App Store in India.

BGMI is a rebranded version of its glorious cousin, Player’s Unknown Battleground, or PUBG, which registered over 30 million daily active players on the platform before its ban last year.

Both PUBG and the recently banned BGMI are battle royale platforms and are developed by Krafton Inc., a South Korea-based company with backing from Chinese tech giant Tencent.

According to a government official who spoke to Reuters, New Delhi has extended its powers under India’s IT law to restrict Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), using the same clause it has used since 2020 to block a number of other Chinese apps. because of national security concerns.

The BGMI ban follows a ban on hundreds of Chinese apps since the bloody India-China clash in the Galawan Valley in 2020, including TikTok, the popular video-sharing platform.

The government gave no specific reason behind its BGMI ban order, nor did it make a public announcement. However, the ban came a month after a 16-year-old boy allegedly shot his mother for not letting him play games like PUBG.

Government orders under this IT Act, called 69A, are generally discreet in nature and the government does not publish or disclose details.

In a tweet, Krafton said they are “clarifying how BGMI has been removed from the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store” and that the company will communicate further after they “get specific information.”

Image Courtesy of Battegrounds Mobile India via Twitter

Basically the same

Battle royale style games in India are as popular as they are controversial. In these games, remote players work together in a virtual world/environment and play together to shoot enemies in order to be the last person standing.

The games are extremely popular, especially among teenagers, but adults also love to immerse themselves in the virtual battlefield. But the popularity of these video games is often tainted with reports of unhealthy outcomes for their players, especially teenagers.

There have been reports of children committing crimes while banned from playing the games and becoming aggressive and socially distant. For example, a 16-year-old boy allegedly shot his mother last month for not allowing him to play games like PUBG.

Concerns have been raised about the impact of the games on the mental health of children, who often spend an unhealthy amount of screen time with these titles.

India cracked down on dozens of Chinese apps in its app stores in 2020, citing security concerns after a bloody clash with China. As of now, the Chinese app ban number is 300 plus apps.

At the time of the ban, the government publicly cited national security interests and non-compliance with India’s IT regulations as reasons for the ban.

However, the South Korea-based makers relaunched the game in India in September as BGMI, assuring it had withdrawn ties with China’s Tencent as publisher of the game’s franchise and acquired the rights in India.

BGMI’s Twitter handle says the game “maintained directly by KRAFTON.”

However, concerns were soon raised about the game’s data security, and Indian politicians and political parties called for investigations into the game’s ill effects on players and the “influence of China.”

According to Krafton’s filings, as of late March, Tencent owned 13.5% ownership in Krafton through an investment vehicle.

BGMI, like PUBG, initially got a nod from the government for complying with the laws when it launched last July.

But the game quickly came under the government’s radar due to regulatory actions following some extreme incidents related to the game, including aggressive behavior in children, addiction to the game, and unauthorized spending of in-app money, among others.

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