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PUBG Mobile adds ‘India’ to name, censors in-game gore in a bid to relaunch after ban

PUBG Mobile will be relaunched in India after being banned in September, Krafton Inc., the South Korean owner of the PUBG brand announced in a press release on Thursday. The version of the app that was banned in India was published by Chinese company Tencent, which has lost the rights to the game in India. Now, Krafton’s subsidiary PUBG Corporation is going it alone in India, and says it will invest US$100 million (~₹747 crore) to hire employees in the country and host “India-exclusive esports events”.

This return was signalled for a while, with Krafton striking a deal with Microsoft Azure to host games — and user data — on the tech giant’s datacentres. Of course, PUBG Mobile was banned in India likely due to geopolitical reasons, following a flare-up of conflict with China, but the government has privately insisted to Reuters that the ban was also due to concerns around user data privacy and the violence in the game. Krafton, seemingly eager to continue benefiting from the large Indian market, has played along, starting with the Azure deal, in spite of no clear evidence that user data was ever under threat when Tencent was publishing the game.

On top of this, the Korean company strongly indicated that it will censor the game, with changes like gore being replaced with “green hit effects”, in-game avatars being “clothed” by default. The company added that the game will now be “set in a virtual simulation training ground”. All these factors indicate changes that are unlikely to be put in place abroad. In spite of all this, it is unclear if the government has approved this relaunch — we have reached out to Krafton for comment on this.

Regardless of approval, Krafton seems to be investing heavily in a relaunch in India. The company has roped in a Bollywood actor and two top PUBG Mobile streamers in India for an ad campaign, according to a report by AFK Gaming. Krafton said that it will release information on when exactly this India version of PUBG Mobile will release at a later date.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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