It looks like PUBG MOBILE will be returning to the Indian market sooner than we think. We reported earlier this year that the Indian Government banned several high-profile apps with links to China. In a follow up article, we confirmed that India was not budging on the ban and would not lift it any time soon.
What has changed?
In an attempt to distance the game from any China based publishers, Krafton, the parent company of PUBG MOBILE revoked the intellectual property rights of the game from Tencent. Tencent is a gaming publisher based in China and was one of the major companies affected by the ban in India.
Krafton have now signed a new deal with Microsoft Azure to host the game on their servers. The mission statement of the company is not the protection of data privacy and security, two of the main reasons that the game was banned in the first place.
“With privacy and data security being a top priority for KRAFTON, the company will be working with Microsoft to ensure personal data protection through Azure. Azure powers some of the biggest multiplayer games, featuring state-of-the-art security and the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings of any cloud service provider. The collaboration will ensure that privacy rights are respected and relevant software will be in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
To further reinforce data security, KRAFTON will be working with Microsoft to introduce a verification process to ensure that storage of personally identifiable information of its players follows all appropriate requirements in the territories where KRAFTON and its subsidiaries operate gaming services.”
This is a major and important move for the company, India is a huge market that they would have been losing out on. India is responsible for around 30% of all downloads on the Google Play store. They have more than 50 million monthly active users in India and that huge player base has created some of the most vibrant and exciting mobile streaming and esports communities.
How has it affected esports?
The game can run on relatively inexpensive hardware and the ubiquity of Android smartphones in India means that a lot of gaming is purely mobile. The ban has changed PUBG Mobile tournaments, many teams in India have been left by the wayside as tournaments shift their focus away from South East Asia towards the Middle East and North Africa.
Some of the most competitive teams will need to wait until 2021 to get a chance to compete in any new tournaments. Esports betting odds will be greatly affected now that some top teams will not be taking part in official tournaments and be potentially prevented from even practicing the game while the ban is still in place.
Krafton plans to re-release the title before the end of the year and they have a major advertising push that will run over the week of Diwali in India.