PUBG Corporation revealed its plans on how it plans to return to India post its infamous ban in early September recently. Its answer is PUBG Mobile India, a dedicated game for India. But it seems like the Ministry is still unsure about unbanning PUBG Mobile in India.
On September 2, the Ministry of Electronics and IT of India announced that 118 apps would be blocked because they “are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order.” The step was taken post complaints stating that these apps were stealing and sharing data with unauthorized third parties whose servers were located outside India. With a user base of over 33 million at its peak, PUBG Mobile suffered a big blow overnight.
The first part of the solution came in the form of decoupling the PUBG Mobile from Tencent, which is a major Chinese tech company and the largest game publisher in the world.
PUBG Mobile India: Clarity needed
Recently, the Korean company announced that it is preparing to launch PUBG Mobile India, a new game designed keeping the local interests in mind. Addressing the data storage concerns, it will conduct frequent audits and verifications on the storage systems to ensure that the Indian users’ personal information is safely managed.
Additionally, there will be region-exclusive tweaks to reflect local needs. For starters, the new game will be set in a virtual simulation training ground. TechRadar is awaiting clarity on whether this means that existing maps will not make it to the new game or if it is an additional game mode. All characters will also start clothed in the Indian version, unlike the previous one where they would be in their undergarments. Effects such as bleeding will be replaced with green hit marks to signify the virtual nature of the game. To promote healthier gameplay habits and control how much time users spend in PUBG Mobile India, the game will also introduce a feature that will restrict extended sessions.
It is also looking to create a local video game, eSports, entertainment culture along with the related IT industries. This will come in the form of PUB Corporation creating an Indian subsidiary to better serve and engage the players. Over 100 employees will be hired across verticals such as business, eSports, and game development. The company hasn’t publicly listed which positions will be created. The new office will also look at local collaborations and partnerships with other businesses. India-exclusive eSports events and tournaments are also in the pipeline.
Despite the effort on the part of the company it seems the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) may not be convinced just yet. According to a report by the Times of India, a source in the Ministry commented, “Unless they address the concerns, it will be difficult to grant any relaxation.”
Krafton, the parent company of PUBG Corporation, also plans on investing $100 million in India to facilitate the new unit. This is supposed to be the largest investment made by a Korean company, outside of the manufacturing industry.
This response is not unexpected, since unbanning one of the apps from the two huge lists would provide a gateway and excuse for the other apps to follow similar protocol. Hence it may still be a while before the game is back.