You’re reading it here first: Even as PUBG Mobile struggles to make a comeback after being banned in India, it has emerged that officials from Krafton Inc. met with officials from the Indian embassy in Seoul on August 13, 2020, according to a response to an RTI filed by MediaNama.
Krafton is the Korean game developer that owns the PUBG brand, and publishes the PC and console versions of the game. Tencent, the Chinese internet company and an investor in Krafton, publishes the wildly popular PUBG Mobile in most countries, including in India until last year. After the border skirmishes with China last year, the mobile game was banned in September, and Krafton took over publishing rights from Tencent in a bid to get the game back in the market.
In the RTI, the Indian embassy refused to provide emails it received from Krafton, citing “stringent Korean Privacy laws”. It also said that it didn’t maintain any records of the August meeting with Krafton, which it said was held at the request of the company. Two months after this meeting, Krafton announced that it would invest US$100 million in India. A Krafton representative said they will reach out in case they have a comment; we will update this post if we receive any further details of the emails and the meeting from the company.
Krafton has renamed the game Battlegrounds Mobile India here, and while pre-registrations for the app have been open for almost a month, the company has not explicitly announced a release date. IGN India reported that industry insiders and livestreamers with close ties to the companies indicated that the game will relaunch this Friday, June 18.
Even so, Krafton finds itself under a dark cloud, with politicians such as former Union minister Ninong Ering demanding that the relaunch be stopped; Ering argued that Krafton’s Chinese investments and the fact that multiple former Tencent India employees moved to Krafton in similar roles. More than one YouTuber made racist comments against Ering, something Krafton avoided commenting on, even as one streamer got arrested by Itanagar police and two others put up apologies on their channels.
Full text of MediaNama’s RTI and Indian embassy’s response
Questions by MediaNama are in bold.
1) Whether the Embassy has received any letter(s) or email(s) from Krafton, Inc. or any subsidiaries/affiliates thereof, regarding planned investments in India, or regarding any game(s) developed/published by them.
The Embassy has received e-mail communications from Krafton in connection with their business interests in India.
2) If so, copy of such letter(s) or email(s). Personal information may be redacted for privacy.
Stringent Korean Privacy laws do not permit sharing of such communications.
3) Whether Embassy officials have held any meeting(s) with representatives of Krafton, Inc. or any subsidiaries/affiliates thereof, regarding planned investments in India, or regarding any game(s) developed/published by them.
4) If so, please provide particulars of said meeting(s), such as date and participants.
The Embassy officers had met with M/s Krafton Inc. team based on meeting request from their side on August 13, 2020.
5) Please provide minutes of aforementioned meeting(s).
No such records are available with the Embassy.
Update (16:05): A previous version of this article did not mention that the meeting took place before the game was banned.
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