PUBG Mobile India Ban: Krafton Dialogue With Government Likely
It seems that Krafton may finally be in dialogue with the Indian government to bring PUBG Mobile back to India. The ongoing Indian Gaming Show and Conference 2021 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has listed Sean Hyunil Sohn, Head Corporate Development, Krafton as one of its speakers. Now the IGC 2021 isn’t a run of the mill event either as it has the support of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as well as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, two agencies of the government that have had concerns with the popular battle royale game recently.
According to multiple reports, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has permanently banned over 59 apps including TikTok and WeChat. Reportedly, the government had issued these businesses notices of a permanent ban after being unsatisfied with their responses on how user data was being collected and handled.
Through 2020, the Indian government had banned over 200 Chinese apps citing them to be “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. While PUBG Mobile was not in the first wave of apps that were banned, it did eventually get banned in September.
This comes at a time when Union Minister Prakash Javadekar mentioned that many mobile games are “violent, explicit and addictive,” and the government plans to promote Indian cultural ethos in games, signalling out PUBG Mobile in particular.
“PUBG was just one example of it, but criticising those games is not the solution. The solution is to create our own games and apps in line with #MakeInIndia for the world so that these are adopted the world over for their basic values that are an integral part of our Indian ethos,” Javadekar said.
Recently, Krafton made clear its priorities to work with Indian government officials to bring PUBG Mobile back to the country. For a company that appears to be transparent, that statement was made to South Korean news outlet E Today (via AFK Gaming) rather than any of the Indian media despite repeated requests for comment. Oddly, that hasn’t stopped Krafton from pushing the PC version of the game complete with Hindi broadcasts.
All of this suggests that Krafton may finally engaging in discussion with the Indian government to bring PUBG Mobile back. Previously, sources speaking to IGN India had stated that the company had not begun discussions with the government and that a ban was permanent.
Interestingly, the ban on PUBG Mobile has done little to stop Indians from playing the game. According to analytics firm App Annie (via TechCrunch) PUBG Mobile’s MAU (monthly active users) from India is over 15 million.
Since PUBG Mobile’s ban in India, Korean company Krafton took over publishing duties for the game in India from China’s Tencent, added “India” to the name, claimed to commit $100 million in investment for the country, and partnered with Microsoft to run the game’s servers in a bid to enhance data security — all in order to win favour with the Indian government. All of this seems to be for nought.
Previously, information technology policy site Medianama filed a Right to Information application (RTI) questioning if PUBG Mobile India has received permission to operate in India. It received the following as a reply:
“MeitY [Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology] does not grant permission for starting of any websites / mobile Apps / service. Accordingly, MeitY has not granted permission to PUBG / PUBG mobile India.”
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