Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), a battle royale game similar to PUBG that had 100 million users in India, has now been outlawed by the Indian authorities. The action followed the government’s two-year ban on many Chinese applications, including Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), due to concerns about national security.
Following a mandate from Delhi, internet giants Google and Apple late this month removed the BGMI gaming software from each of their respective online shops.
What is BGMI?
On September 2, 2020, the Indian government outlawed PUBG Mobile. The game was released by Krafton as Battlegrounds Mobile India after 10 months (BGMI).
The largest of the Chinese applications that have successfully avoided detection by relaunching and rebranding with the same functionality is BGMI. There are reports that nothing much has changed and that PUBG Mobile has just been rebranded as BGMI in India despite BGMI’s claims to have resolved the problems the government had with PUBG Mobile.
An NGO called Prahar requested the government to restrict the Chinese gaming app BGMI-PUBG and add it to the list of 54 Chinese applications banned on February 14, 2022, claiming its exclusion from the list is a “clear lapse in judgement on the part of the Government.”
IANS reported that the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which is linked with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has backed Prahar’s move and asked for a probe into the origins and Chinese involvement of BGMI-PUBG.
What led to the outlaw?
PUBG Studios and the South Korean video game developer Krafton filed PUBG India Private Ltd under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in order to relaunch PUBG Mobile in the country.
When it was revealed that data from users’ Android smartphones were being sent to Tencent-owned China servers after the early beta release for Android users in June 2021, outrage erupted.Following the discovery of the data-sharing violation, Krafton published an upgrade to fix the data-sharing issue with Chinese servers.
The BGMI game was eventually launched in May 2021. The game was finally released on July 2 for Android smartphones and August 18 for iOS devices. In just one year, there are already more than 100 million people who have registered on BGMI.
However, analysts claim that the so-called “new avatar” of the BGMI was identical to the original PUBG since Tencent, a company located in China, was still in charge of it in the background. The government ordered the digital behemoths to delete the popular battle royale game from each of their various app stores on July 28 as a result of Prahar’s complaint. But the game can only be played by those who have the app installed.
What is the response from the Government and BGMI?
In a statement made on Thursday during the firm’s quarterly results call, Krafton CFO Bae Dong-Geun said the company recognises and comprehends the Indian government’s concerns. “We have been directly running the service based on stringent data security standards and monitoring. We will closely cooperate with the authorities to find ways for the users in India to keep enjoying BGMI,” Dong-Geun said, as cited by DNA.
The formal justification for the game’s restriction in India still hasn’t been given by the government. However, Google India formally acknowledged that they had been given a government directive to take down the BGMI game. “On receipt of the order, following the established process, we have notified the affected developer and have blocked access to the app that remained available on the Play Store in India”.
After the government ordered Google and Apple to prohibit BGMI, certain gaming companies wrote a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting “fair treatment” to encourage the growth of the gaming ecosystem in the country.
The authorities presently have over 270 Chinese applications prohibited. A few of these applications attempted to enter India under various identities, but they were again blocked.