Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) will make a return to Indian smartphones after the Union government allowed BGMI’s parent company, Krafton, to resume operations, according to a press release put out by the company.
The popular game was removed abruptly from Google Play Store and Apple App Store in July, 2022, following an order issued by the state. It was not clear why BGMI was banned then.
“We are highly grateful to the Indian authorities for allowing us to resume operations of BGMI,” Krafton’s CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn said in a statement.
India’s Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that the game has been given approval for a trial of three months. He added that the company has complied with issues of server locations and data security which led to its ban in 2022.
“We will keep a close watch on other issues of user harm, addiction, etc. in (the) next 3 months before a final decision is taken,” read a tweet put out by Chandrasekhar.
Vibhor Kukreti, Head Government Affairs, Krafton India, clarified that the company has put in place several measures to ensure compliance with all “applicable regulations”. He also urged users to prioritise their well-being and “follow responsible gaming practices”.
Overview on the game: BGMI is the Indian version of the popular battle-royale game PUBG, which was banned in India in 2020 as part of a larger ban on Chinese apps amidst tensions at the border.
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Why it matters: It is a significant development because PUBG was one of the most popular games in India before its ban in 2020, having amassed more than 100 million users. It can provide a considerable boost to the gaming industry in India as well as assure international companies that India is open for business.
We would like to express our deep appreciation to the Indian authorities for permitting us to restart the operations of BATTLEGROUNDS MOBILE INDIA (BGMI). KRAFTON, Inc., as a responsible South Korean company that abides by the law, #BGMI #battlegroundsmobileindia pic.twitter.com/gaBIsMjhAd
— Battlegrounds Mobile India (@BattleGames_Ind) May 19, 2023
Timeline of BGMI’s troubles
2020: India banned 118 apps in September 2020 which included PUBG, alleging that these apps were engaged in activities which are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. The government first banned 59 apps such as TikTok and WeChat in June 2020, followed by 47 apps in July 2020.
- The ban came in the wake of a serious development at the Indian border where Indian forces squared off against Chinese troops.
- It alleged that these apps were stealing and transmitting users’ data surreptitiously in an unauthorised manner to servers outside India. The apps continue to remain banned to this day.
2021: The game, however, made a comeback in July 2021 with a new name, some censorship, and under the distribution of South Korean developer— Krafton. It was published by the Chinese company, Tencent, earlier. The game looked and felt a little different in order to avoid getting clubbed into the banned variant of the game.
- Krafton revoked Tencent’s rights to the game in India. It then tried to rebrand and censor the game initially, and christened it “PUBG Mobile India” but it was not enough to convince the Indian authorities.
2022: The ban in 2022 was abrupt but IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar confirmed that the government had issues related to server locations and data security. Many in India believed that game was still under Chinese control as Tencent continued to hold a stake.
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- PUBG Mobile: Indian embassy in Korea met with Krafton officials last August, no records available