- India continues to have licensing issues with the game over concerns of privacy
- The launch of a different version of PUBG Mobile brings new hope to players and fans
- Tencent would like to have India return to the PUBG esports sphere
Fans and players of PUBG esports are hoping India will once again rejoin the global tournament ecosystem.
India’s Troubled Relationship with PUBG Mobile
India has been a major region in mobile games as a whole. This is why it should come as no one’s surprise that PUBG Mobile quickly became extremely popular in the country following its release in 2018. It is reported that the game had over 50 million active users per month in late 2020.
With its large player base, India was a major contributor to PUBG esports, but all this changed in September last year, when the country banned PUBG, following data privacy concerns. With this, the game’s esports in the country practically vanished.
However, the game returned to India under the new name of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) in July this year. The South Korean company Krafton, owner of the PUBG IP, developed and released the game, while PUBG Mobile was released by the Chinese media conglomerate Tencent. There has been a lot of speculation about a return to esports after the game was released.
Players and esports fans alike have been wondering if the new version of the game will allow esports to return to India. Earlier this year Krafton hosted its first competition, The Launch Party, which saw many top creators and teams being invited. Shortly after that Battlegrounds India Series (BGIS) was announced, having open qualifiers and a prize pool of Rs. 10,000,000 (about $134,000).
A New Hope
The announcement has reignited hope in many players that are wondering if BGMI will be a part of the global PUBG Mobile esports roadmap. There is a similar situation in China, where PUBG Mobile is available under the name of PeaceKeeper Elite. The name change was necessary to go around the country's strict regulations and to help PUBG Mobile esports to recover from the hit in popularity it received after China implemented the new laws.
Unfortunately, when the 2021 PMGC’s format was announced recently, there were no Indian teams listed to compete in the league stage despite the release of BGMI.
BGMI has not yet had an official esports competition in India so far. The BGIS was announced in July but was delayed for unknown reasons. However, Krafton recently announced it will be conducting the anticipated tournament in December and January.
Tencent wants to see India rejoin the global esports roadmap because of the massive viewership boost the tournaments will receive. In May 2020 there was PUBG Mobile’s first season of the PMPL South Asia. According to Esports Charts, the tournament peaked at 285,499 viewers, but when Indian teams could not participate because of the game’s ban in the country, the viewership number fell to just 42,411.
Despite this, fans are still hoping to see an Indian team in the PMGC, which will take place between January 21 and January 23.