PUBG Mobile Banned in India
Courtesy of HT Tech / Tencent

“The sheer suddenness of the move, the unexpected nature of the move, the unpredictability of the move.” 

And just like that, PUBG Mobile has been banned in India among 118 other apps. So, will PUBG Mobile be back? If so, when? When will PUBG Mobile be back in India? Here’s everything you need to know about the ban and what’s next for the Indian mobile gaming community.

Why Was PUBG Mobile Banned in India?

The simple reasons are –

  • India-China conflicts at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Ladakh
  • Chinese apps and their aggressive data collection (Collecting personal and private data from your devices)

On August 31, the Chinese army “engaged in provocative action”, according to the Ministry of External Affairs of our country. In response to the fresh tension, the Indian government has banned over 118 apps with links to China.

According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, PUBG Mobile and other apps were banned under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. It says that “they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of the state and public order.”

PUBG Mobile has been a soft-target since its launch. As the political tension between India and China rose, the Indian government felt it suitable to ban these apps altogether to act as a “digital strike” over Chinese products.

Is The PUBG Mobile Ban Justified?

It’s grey. PUBG Mobile had a huge influence and presence in the Indian gaming market. There are hundreds of companies, brands, and esports teams working day and night, around the game. With the sudden ban on the game, many livelihoods will be affected. This includes streamers, professional players, the teams behind tournaments, events, and many more. This, however, doesn’t mean it’s a full-stop on the careers.

On the other hand, if you see it from a political point-of-view, the PUBG Mobile ban happened because China has always been known for its notoriety and aggressive data collection. Many apps have been found to collect personal and private data, collect photos, emails, phone numbers, and many more. As the political tension grows between the two countries, it’s only justified that India prevents any or all communications between the two countries on the consumer-level.

Although Tencent updated the game’s privacy policies to comply with Indian standards, in July. This meant your information would be in India and won’t be shared with third-parties until necessary.

Plus, China holds the power to enforce rules for companies to collect data and provide them with the same through these applications, whenever they want. So, for a short-term solution, until the situation resolves, it’s one of the many things India can do.

Will PUBG Mobile Be Back in India?

The odds of it, as of now, are very low. People thought even TikTok would be back soon, which surely hasn’t happened yet. The same could be said about PUBG Mobile. Although these bans are a part of a short-term fight against China, we can’t say for sure if PUBG Mobile will be coming back anytime soon.

For PUBG Mobile to be back in India, here are some possibilities –

  • Tencent will have to give up the entire game and all its operations for a completely separate version – PUBG Mobile India, run by an Indian company with Tencent being only a shareholder
  • Tencent would have to comply with all Indian rules and regulations regarding the security of the state and public order. Even then, the chances are low
  • We’ll have to wait till the India-China border tension is over and both the countries agree on a peaceful settlement

What’s Next For The PUBG Mobile Community in India?

For this segment, I’d withhold my own opinions. Instead, here’s what many industry veterans and esports professionals said about the move –

Deepak Ojha, Founder at TalkEsport.com

Let’s just hope the government must’ve thought it through. There must’ve been some security lapses in the way they stored or transmitted data.

It created an ecosystem of esports in India. We were trying to build an esports scene in India for ages, but PUBG did what CSGO/DotA or FIFA never could. The amount involved in the PUBG community in India today is INSANE.

Whatever it is, it’s very unfortunate.

Anurag Khurana, Esports Consultant

I am hoping that the government had reasons to ban PUBG Mobile but I think it will help the esports ecosystem in the mid and long run. Because the audience is already there. This will encourage the creators to go and play other games, which in return, would benefit the entire gaming ecosystem.

Md Armughanuddin, Freelance Video Game Journalist

While the move can affect thousands of people who are depending on the game for a livelihood, it should be noted that this is a matter of national interest. We hope proper procedure was followed before undertaking the step given the fact that the move affects a pretty large ecosystem. While the audience will obviously transition to other games, it remains to be seen whether an Indian game is able to capitalize on this opportunity.

Amidst the ruckus, it is expected that the government implements Data Protection Laws, something similar to GDPR. Banning applications at large is a temporary measure and a proper framework is required to deal with these issues.

Gnanashekar Reddy, CEO, Team Tamilas

PUBGM created a lot of career options for gamers and streamers in India. It penetrated a big market and opened up opportunities for a lot of brands as well as gamers from smaller cities. But the privacy concern that the government has seen seems to be a bigger issue and I think the government has taken a bolder step considering all the factors. I’m hoping there will be an alternative to this very soon by Indian developers.

Ayush Chauhan, Founder at Gameffine

For me as a non-player, its very easy to say that this was a necessary move. But for people who have been actively involved with the game for months now, it will not be a popular decision. Personally, these moves as artificial as they appear, send out a strong message on how India handles and engages with China. People are increasingly becoming more aware of their data, and if these bans lead to an India based PUBG server/office, then it helps everyone. I should add though that this is still very much an ecosystem in turmoil. Things can change very quickly, and I don’t think they have changed for the final time yet.


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