The recent PUBG ban by the Indian government on September 2 has left many gamers and streamers high and dry.
The Indian gaming industry saw a revolution with the launch of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) in February 2018 with PUBG Mobile generating 18.5 crore downloads and its lighter version PUBG Mobile Lite generating 9.24 crore downloads in the country according to the data shared by Sensor Tower.
PUBG has been credited as being the biggest force behind the rise of gaming and esports in India as the game could be played on any smartphone even one costing less than Rs 10,000 which isn’t the case with Fortnite, another game in the same genre which is hugely popular in the United States.
Maybe that’s what explains the huge popularity and penetration of PUBG Mobile as people in small towns without high-end gaming laptops, gaming consoles or iPhones could run it smoothly and it soon caught the imagination of an entire nation.
The impact of the game’s ban will be felt by young gamers who built a huge fan base by live streaming on their YouTube channels and could earn lots of money which was possible because Tencent, the Chinese company that developed and distributed the game for Korean PUBG corporation, invested a lot of money in India by organising tournaments.
With the ban, an entire economy created by the game could dismantle as the gamers may move on to other games but would that be as viable and will the reach be as wide as it was with PUBG, something which broke social and privilege barriers? The ban also leaves a huge vacuum in the Indian gaming industry as people search for alternatives to pass their time.
After PUBG’s ban, Garena Free Fire, a similar game, saw a huge spike in demand as downloads surged by 2.1 million in four days from September 2.
Currently, Garena’s downloads stand at more than six crore on Google Play Store and it is the first result that shows up when you search PUBG.
Call of Duty Mobile, which also gave PUBG a run for its money, saw a tremendous rise in the number of downloads with 1.15 million downloads in the four days after PUBG’s ban and the total downloads now stand at more than one crore on the Google Play Store.
Since PUBG’s ban, a lot of clone apps have also appeared in the market such as Pabje which saw almost 1,00,000 downloads if only for being a cheap knockoff with shoddy graphics that users made fun of.
FAU-G or Fearless and United: Guards which is being hyped as India’s alternative to PUBG was announced two days after the game’s ban, is in development stage being created by nCore Games and backed by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar.
In another significant development, the South Korean makers of the game have cut ties with Tencent in India and decided to take on the publishing responsibilities of the game. They are also looking for an Indian gaming partner to handle distribution.
But it remains to be seen if that would be enough to get the ban overturned and if the game makes a comeback in the Indian market.