With PUBG Mobile Ban in India, Gamers Are in a Fix
Developers need to be mindful of distribution policies
After Tik-Tok Indian government bans PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) along with 118 different applications with Chinese developers or publishers. Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology stated the apps are “banned under section 69A of the Information Technology Act”. The government said that it has “decided to block 118 mobile apps since in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order.”
PUBG is an online multiplayer battle royale game. It was developed by South Korean developer and published by Bluehole. However, the mobile version of the game is published and distributed by Tencent a Chinese company.
The Reach and the Loss—
The PUBG mobile was released in India in 2018 and its counter-parts such as PUBG Mobile Light was released later. The Light version was launched to expand the user reach of the game. And make the game accessible to users who do not possess high-end phones or don't have fast internet services due to their rural geographical locations.
In two days of banning both these games, Tencent (a company which holds 10% stakes in PUBG’s parent company and is solely responsible for the mobile version of the game) has lost over 34 billion of its market value. According to Sensor Tower, store intelligence after the launch of PUBG, Tencent doubled its lifetime earning in just seven months. Indian market makes up for almost 1/4th of PUBG’s user pool, it has 50 Million downloads from the country and 33 Million actives users which accounts for 24% of downloads overall.
Political Implications —
We are at a time in history, where we can not evaluate the political situations and technology separately. This ban is the latest move against Chinese companies in India amid a months-long standoff over a disputed border. When the first list of apps was released by the Indian government the gamers were relieved that PUBG was not part of that list, however, they didn't have much luck the second time around. India first banned 59 Chinese apps, including ByteDance’s popular video-sharing app TikTok, Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s UC Browser, in June.
That move, which technology minister of India referred to as a “digital strike”, followed a skirmish with Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border site in June when 20 Indian soldiers were killed. The second list comes after these tensions occurrences on the borderline. The Indian government recently released an “Atmanirbhar Bharat” Campaign, which means “self-resilient nation.”
The bans are an extension of this campaign, as the campaign focus on local businesses, manufacturers and encourage the citizens to avoid using Chinese or foreign imports.
Gamers Point Of View —
This is the second list issued by the Indian government of similar nature. The game is currently (i.e. September 5th 2020), available on the mobile phones. As these decisions take some time to come to fruition. But just like the first list soon the game will be off the google play store and apple store from all devices. And Indian IP addresses will be banned for the same.
The gamers know for the fact that even if they download the VPN option to access the game then also their reaction time will be affected and they won’t be able to compete with their opponents from different countries. And as most of the professional gamers and streamers earn their revenue by competing on an international level in championships situated in the game, it will be nearly impossible for them to earn decent revenue from the game.
Also many alternatives to the game such as Knives Out-No rules, just fight!, Rules of Survival and Creative Destruction, to name a few, are also banned.
The Direct Indian Alternative —
One would think that the game being part of the second banning list is just a coincidence but the news of a launch of a direct Indian alternative game “FAU-G” indicates otherwise. Indian game developing company nCore Games has announced an “action” game called FAU-G Or Fearless And United: Guards.
Even though in a press release the co-founder of the Indian based company clarified that banning of “PUBG” so close to their launch date is a mare coincident, gaming community and Indian media found it controversial.
Global Impact —
After the first list was released by the Indian Government, media all around the world took notice. Many considered Trump’s decision to ban We Chat in the US was part of the ripple effect caused by the same. Trump's We chat ban resulted in Tencent losing over 66 billion of its market value. From all these recent events, it's evident that we are moving in an era of technology where companies and developers have to be mindful with their distribution and publishing policies.
Considering the grave financial implications such as occurrences are having on the world of technology. Moving forward they also have to consider all the political and international incidents while choosing the distributers or publishers for their product or services.