Hugely popular battle royale game Player Unknown’s BattleGrounds Mobile (or PUBG) has been banned in India. The app fell foul of a new set of “sovereign powers” that the Indian government has used to ban 118 mobile apps owned or partly-owned by Chinese companies. Chinese tech giant Tencent is a 20% investor in PUBG developer Bluehole, now under the PUBG Corporation. It also wholly owns the mobile version of the game.
PUBG Mobile is a serious competitor in the genre. However, kingpin BR game Fortnite has had its own problems recently. Publisher Epic Games has had its own widely publicized disputes with mobile app stores from both Google and Apple.
PUBG Mobile has over 700 million downloads worldwide. It’s estimated there are over 50 million regular PUBG Mobile players in India alone. However, their links with Tencent (and by proxy the Chinese government) were apparently too much for the Indian regime to ignore.
PUBG in India: “Ensuring sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”
“Using the sovereign powers, the Government of India has decided to block the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” the Indian IT Ministry said in a statement. “This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace,” they finished.
Government Blocks 118 Mobile Apps Which are Prejudicial to Sovereignty and Integrity of India, Defence of India, Security of State and Public Order.
— Ministry of Electronics & IT (@GoI_MeitY) September 2, 2020
The move follows wide-ranging tensions about the role of Chinese companies in global communications and tech operations. US President Donald Trump targeted Tencent-owned company WeChat with an executive order just last month. This led to concerns that Tencent-owned games like League of Legends and PUBG might be effected. Luckily for US players, Tencent’s games were spared from the order.
However, it seems Indian PUBG fans won’t be able to play their favorite game anymore because of a political decision. India and China have seen increasing border tensions over recent months. This included an unarmed mass brawl between opposing soldiers in Mid June, that left nearly 60 people dead from both sides.
Tencent’s market value apparently dropped nearly 2% after the announcement. That’s a value of $10 billion dollars, which tells you how big of a game PUBG Mobile is in the Indian market.
This is just the latest story in a year full of politics entering the world of videogames. What do you think? Is this PUBG Mobile ban the right thing to do? Should political disputes and videogames remain separate?
Let us know in the comments below. Oh, and keep checking Daily Esports for the latest updates on this story and many others.