The most popular mobile game in India, PUBG Mobile, has now been officially taken down from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, in line with the ban imposed on the Tencent-developed game (along with 117 other apps) by the Indian Government. At the time of publishing this article, the game is working if it was already installed in a device, but we are not sure just how long it will continue to function.
Tencent did issue a statement on Friday that it will be engaging with the government to get PUBG Mobile back on mobile platforms in India. Meanwhile, users who already have the game installed, can still play a match or two. The game can also be downloaded and installed from other third-party app stores as of now.
PUBG Mobile garnered over 50 million daily active users in India, and grew even more during the pandemic, with the game becoming a place for friends to come together and enjoy during the lockdown. PUBG Mobile also was a favourite e-sports game in India, with official tournaments and other third-party leagues becoming quite popular and capturing a large segment of the smartphone gaming market. Tencent would be announcing a new version of the game with improved graphics, revamped maps and gameplay, but it's unlikely that players in India will get to experience it.
A new era of PUBG Mobile is coming, featuring an overhaul of the Erangel map and a bold new look.— PUBG MOBILE (@PUBGMOBILE) August 28, 2020
Check out the exclusive sneak peek on the @AppStore here: https://t.co/yfjzSQI0Xm pic.twitter.com/qDBFaZ1YyJ
However, the Government in its memo claimed PUBG Mobile and the 117 Chinese apps that it banned are ‘prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity’ of the country and that it received “many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting user’s data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.”
While PUBG Mobile has disappeared from mobile app stores, the PC, PS4 and Xbox One version of the game is still available to play. There’s also PUBG PC Lite which seems to be new haunt of PUBG Mobile players, according to chatter on social media. The PC and console version of PUBG is developed by South Korea-based Bluehole.
Within just a day of the ban, though, the vaccuum has already been attempted to be filled by local Indian game developers. There’s already a battle-royale game with barebones graphics called PABJE, and now Bengaluru-based game studio nCore Games, which has industry veteran Vishal Gondal as an investor, announced it’s working on a similar game (with a similar name) called FAU-G, under the mentorship of Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. FAU-G may sound similar to PUBG, but the studio explained it means Fearless and United-Guards. During the announcement, the studio said it will donate 20 percent of the game’s revenue to the government’s fund-raising initiative Bharat Ke Veer. There are also alternatives like Call of Duty: Mobile, Garena Free Fire and Fortnite that might feel close to the experience of playing PUBG Mobile, if not better.