Zàijiànle, lǎo péngyǒu! (good bye, old friend)
Gamers, the time has come to pay your last respects to PUBG (Players Unknown Battle Ground). Refresh your memories, perhaps even sneak in some game time if you can. Because this is the final swish of the axe.
What was once not even in the frame for the gamers’ nightmare in India turned into bitter reality in the blink of an eye. The Indo-China border skirmish has seen many casualties, and yet in the trade war that has since ensued, PUBG’s departure from India is the most high-profile one.
In a heart-breaking announcement for the game’s loyal man base, PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite will no longer work for gamers in India starting from Friday, the company has announced.
The announcement was in the reckoning ever since the Indian government took the decision to ban Chinese apps citing data security and privacy concerns. While 59 apps were banned in June, PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite were among those to face the music in the second retaliatory wave, alongside 118 other on September 2.
The popular mobile game was banned under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act following China’s actions at the border.
The Indian youth was hopeful of a revival when PUBG Corporation recently announced that they are withdrawing their partnership with Tencent (whereupon it was no longer authorized to the PUBG Mobile franchise to Tencent Games in the country), hoping that the work with the Indian government to look for a quick, effective resolution may pave way for its comeback.
Alas! It wasn’t to be for the PUBG fanatics, which boasts of nearly 33 million users in India alone, out of its 50 million active players globally. The game, which has seen more than 600 million downloads worldwide, no doubt had India to thank for its soaring popularity all over.
This is evident from the fact also that Tencent reportedly lost $14 billion in its market value within days when the ban was first imposed in India. The move broke the chain of consecutive gains that Tencent had been able to record. The stats are in stark contrast because PUBG Mobile saw a global revenue gain of $1.3 billion (roughly Rs 9,731 crore) in the first half of this year, bringing its lifetime collection to $3 billion (nearly Rs 22,457 crore). This was accompanied by the highest number of downloads in India, raking in a mammoth 175 million installs as people stayed home owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
And it took China’s condemnable actions in the valley to see their fortunes tumble.
Originally developed by a Korean company, Tencent bought the mobile version of PUBG with expansion plans in China and other markets. The company executed the plan in an impressive fashion and in no time India became the largest country by the number of users, going on to amass an army of ardent followers.
While the Indian gamer collective is sunk in sorrow, a viable alternative to quench their passion may be around the corner. The Indian gaming company nCore’s offering of indigenous multiplayer action game FAU-G is one which is eagerly anticipated to fill the void of PUBG Mobile in India. FAU-G is slated to launch next month.
As the players stare down at the ‘server is busy’ message in desperate attempts to battle online, this decision is curtains on one of the most popular multiplayer games to have grabbed the attentions of the country.
Unfortunate as it may be, it is goodbye indeed.
Stay tuned to this space for more updates.