Will PUBG Mobile come back in India soon? Photo: India TV News
Will PUBG Mobile come back in India soon? Photo: India TV News

Many mobile games are "violent, explicit and addictive", and PUBG was just one example, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said Sunday, announcing a government plan to set up a center of excellence in gaming and other related areas to promote Indian cultural ethos.

PUBG was among over 100 China-origin mobile applications banned by the government last year. Although the ban was done in the name of national security, it seems that the goalposts are changing, and the return of PUBG India seems even more unlikely.

Trying to return PUBG Mobile to India

In another attempt to bring the game back to the country, Krafton, the developer, said it is focused on releasing PUBG Mobile India instead of its newly-announced mobile title, PUBG: New State.

At the Indian Gaming Conference 2021, Sean Sohn, the head of corporate development at Krafton, also said he doesn’t know when it will be released. He added Krafton cares a lot about the Indian market and that it is “working hard” to bring the game back.

With time passing by, Indian players’ hopes of the game’s return are dwindling. It seems that the Indian ministry of electronics doesn’t want PUBG Mobile, which has been under fire in the past for its alleged “addictive” and “violent nature,” to come back.

Photo: 91Mobiles
Photo: 91Mobiles

In an interview with Seoul Economic Daily, Byung-gyu Jang, the chairman of Krafton, he wants to bring the game back as quickly as possible and the game’s unavailability was “India’s problem.” The report added that Jang nodded after being asked if the game’s return was a political problem in India.

With Krafton set for a public IPO later this year, the company has been working hard to bring the game back in the country. With no communication from India’s ministry of electronics yet, players will have to wait to see if the game does eventually return. The act under which the game was banned (Section 69A) doesn’t come under India’s Right to Information (RTI) act as well. This means that the action taken under this act is confidential with the public having little knowledge of the happenings behind it.

The news of the game’s ban came as a huge shock to gamers in India. PUBG Mobile was downloaded about 185 million times in India and accounted for 24 percent of the game’s total downloads since its release, according to Sensor Tower. The popular battle royale game also had a budding esports scene in the country, which collapsed after the ban.

A gaming center to teach courses related to VFX, gaming, and animation

The Minister for Information and Broadcasting said his ministry has decided to form a gaming center to teach courses related to VFX, gaming, and animation so that new games are developed that promote Indian cultural ethos, according to Gadgets 360.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the virtual exhibition and prize Announcement of ''Khel Khel Mein - A Pan Maharashtra Toy/Game/ Project Design Competition'' - the minister said the courses will commence this year itself.

“Happy to announce that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in collaboration with IIT Bombay has decided to form a Center of Excellence in gaming and other related areas. We are at an advanced stage of preparation and this will come into effect as the new session begins in 2021.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is passionate about preserving and perpetuating Indian values, heritage and cultural ethos and is putting in the immense effort so that the children and youth of our country are made aware of our rich culture and tradition," the minister said. "We can also introduce those values via modern technology and put it to optimum use," he said.

Photo: DNA India
Photo: DNA India

He said many games played on mobile and other gadgets are "violent, explicit, addictive and tend to create a complex in the mind of children".

"PUBG was just one example of it, but criticizing 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 world over for their basic values that are an integral part of our Indian ethos," Javadekar said.

He said this effort by the Modi government will fructify and lead the nation into creating new games that promote Indian cultural ethos.

New State India Launch might be in consideration after the official Hindi website is found in its code

“Recently, with no pre-registration available for India, China and Vietnam, there was certain uncertainty of whether the game would be available in India. Inspecting the website files shows us that there is a transcript file for Hindi hidden. The support for the Hindi language which is predominantly spoken in India suggests that it might make its way to India sooner or later [sic],” GemWire’s post claims, said My Smart Price.

This seemingly suggests that while no announcements have been made yet, game publisher Krafton does have India in its launch plans for PUBG: New State. An IGN report suggests that the Hindi language site also has a full-script Hindi translation of its content, therefore being ready for deployment once an official decision is taken on launching the game in India. However, the Hindi language webpage and its content have been internally disabled for now, and the reason for this likely pivots around PUBG Mobile’s issues with the central government of India from late 2020.

PUBG Mobile, one of the most popular apps of all time in India, was placed in a list of over 250 apps that were banned in the country due to their alleged ties with China. In response, PUBG Corp has since severed ties with Chinese distributor Tencent Gaming, come under the Korean house Krafton’s umbrella, set up an India subsidiary for the game, and even requested the government for multiple meetings – if reports are to be believed.

While PUBG: New State is a completely different game, it remains to be seen if it would be expected to gain ministry clearance. If the latter holds true, PUBG: New State’s launch in India might be a long-drawn affair that may delay the game’s presence in the country by months.

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