PUBG Corp has responded to the ban on PUBG MOBILE in India by taking over the publishing rights of the game from Tencent Holdings in the region. The shift serves as a way of distancing the IP from China and more specifically Tencent. Indian authorities banned the game citing concerns with data privacy and misuse of user data by the app.
On Tuesday the PUBG Corporation, a South Korean firm operating under Krafton Inc., announced that it would take over as publisher for PUBG MOBILE in India. A statement issued by the company said: “In light of recent developments, PUBG Corporation has made the decision to no longer authorize the PUBG MOBILE franchise to Tencent Games in India. Moving forward, PUBG Corporation will take on all publishing responsibilities within the country.” The company also said that it hoped to work with the Indian government to find a solution that allows players in the region to enjoy the game, while being fully compliant with India’s regulations.
India banned 118 apps along with PUBG MOBILE on Sept. 2, as tensions between India and China continue to escalate following a border dispute that saw armed forces from the two countries engage in armed conflict on June 15. Both sides endured casualties and since then India has begun to crack down on Chinese companies operating in the region. The Indian authorities have already issued bans to titles such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, PUBG MOBILE, and Arena of Valor, among other big names such as Tik Tok and WeChat.
One of the concerns that Indian authorities cited was that the banned apps were allegedly “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.” However, Tencent had moved servers to locations inside India earlier this year to comply with regulations in the region. There is speculation that there is a political angle behind the move, given Tencent’s close ties with the Chinese government.
Indian esports is built largely on the back of PUBG MOBILE’s popularity and it has led to investments, both local and foreign, that have allowed the formation of a sustainable ecosystem from the ground up. The ban on the game jeopardizes future prospects of several stakeholders including Fnatic, Team Solomid, Nova Esports, and Galaxy Racer, all of whom operate teams in India. The ban and subsequent uncertainty about the future has already caused unease among the country’s professional and casual player base. Teams such as Megastars have already disbanded their roster as a result of the ban.
PUBG Corp.’s statement has raised the hopes for players in the region and given the size of the player base and revenue generated from the region, it’s likely that a solution is reached. However, time is of the essence as investors and stakeholders will eventually be forced to cut their losses and move on should it drag on for a significant period. Indian teams were also scheduled to play out their PUBG MOBILE Pro League Season 2 matches this month as part of the global circuit, but those plans are currently on hold.
Shounak Sengupta is a staff writer for AFK Gaming.
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