The first-person shooter you are playing at home might not be Garena Free Fire, but it is the most popular FPS in the world. That is because the east is where most of the player base lies. However, with the recent ban on the game in India, the game has lost a lot of players, and with that, the shares of Sea Ltd. fell significantly.
What is Garena Free Fire?
If you are not from Asia, the chances are that you have never heard about this game besides getting those notifications in Twitch Prime that you have probably dismissed without checking what it’s for, unless you are into Free Fire betting, of course. However, since the game is published by Singapore-based Garena, which is under a huge company called Sea Ltd, it is no surprise that it is so prominent in Asia.
How popular is Garena Free Fire in India?
Just so one can understand how big of a loss in profit and player base this is, in 2021, the Free Fire India Championship 2021 Fall season managed to have over one million viewers at the time, while the Pro League India 2021 Winter reached over 380,000 peak viewers. These are pretty big numbers for a single event, and the number of players is substantially bigger.
According to TechCrunch, India is the country with the most players, and as Free Fire has over 75 million active users, it is speculated that over 40 million are from India. Considering that is more than half of the player base, banning this game in India is a big deal, especially in the esports betting scene.
When we look at the stock changes of Sea Ltd because of this loss, they have dropped from ~$160 to ~$130 but have quickly risen back to ~$150. While this may seem significant, this is actually a pretty small drop, considering their shares were valued at $365 in September last year.
Why was it banned?
So far, Garena did not make a statement about the game being banned, even if it is no longer available in Google Play and iOS app stores for residents of India. They did reference that they are aware of the game being unavailable and are working to address the situation.
While Free Fire being banned in India is indeed a surprise, it should not be too big, as it is not the first big title to get banned. In 2020, PUBG Mobile was also banned, which was one of the biggest esports in the country at the time. There are also over 50 Chinese apps banned in India.
The reason why the apps are banned is that the Indian government is “safeguarding national integrity & security.” Of course, people who still want to play the game while residing in India can still do so by getting a VPN since it is not illegal to play it; it is just unavailable at the store.