It will be back, no it won’t. It will be back, no it won’t…
It seems prayers of jilted PUBG lovers may soon be heard after all.
From being banned in September, to ceasing its operations in India at the end of October, here we stand the week after in November. While chatter related to the much-loved battle royale title never really died down, we might finally have credible reports that PUBG Mobile is indeed concocting a return to India!
According to reports, the South Korean firm has been a busy bee in recent weeks, engaged with multiple global cloud service providers to store Indian users’ data within the country. This, in a bid to mitigate the Central Government’s prime concerns about user data residency and security.
The high profile name that it is, there have been several theories floating as to how the return could be cemented, perhaps even more so since the ban became definite. However, it is believed that PUBG has been in contact with local firms including the likes of mobile payments major Paytm and telecom giant Airtel to explore their interest in publishing the popular mobile game in the country.
With news coming last week that saw Tencent closing down their mobile operations in India, there were murmurs all around that all was not what it seemed. Then there was the statement released by PUBG Corp., where they specifically pointed to them assuming full control of publishing rights of their title in India. Now that Tencent has returned the publishing rights for PUBG Mobile in India to its original owners in BlueHole, it is being touted as a breakthrough to the revival of the game in India.
Speculation has also been rife due to a LinkedIn job posting by PUBG Corporation regarding the recruitment of a Corporate Development Division Manager in India. Given that one of the major responsibilities of the role would be to support the setup process of PUBG India, if it is a tantalising hint about the game’s return to the country is anyone’s guess. PUBG is surely “exploring different ways to engage its community in India”.
Another outlet for the potential announcement is the PUBG players, who have established their own cult following in the country. To the same end, it is believed that PUBG has informed certain high-profile streamers in the country that it expects to resume the service in India before the end of this year. The gaming pros have also fanned heavy conjecture due to their cryptic social media posts. All through, the anticipated return is not bereft of drama.
The unrest that erupted after China’s condemnable actions at the border is what triggered the Indian government to ban apps of Chinese origin, citing cybersecurity concerns. While gamers have been slumped in sorrow ever since, PUBG has had to bear the brunt of enormous financial losses due to losing its market here. Mere days after its ban was first announced, Tencent reportedly lost $14 billion in its market value.
The move, however, broke the chain of consecutive gains that Tencent had been able to record. The stats are in direct contrast to the fact that 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.
With more than 50 million monthly active users in India, PUBG Mobile established an ardent following among the Indian gaming base, becoming arguably the most popular mobile game in the country before it was banned. It was instrumental in establishing an ecosystem of Esports organisations, including giving rise to game streamers due to its all-action, spectator sport-friendly gameplay.
The competitive Indian PUBG Mobile arena has been in limbo ever since the ban, with slated players not even able to compete in PMPL.
Due to the vacillating nature of the news, it will be interesting to see how PUBG Corp. goes about reinstall the PUBG mobile scene in the nation.
As of now, gamers, whisper carefully, and try not to jinx it. Be it this Diwali, or the end of the year, you are long for a roller coaster now.
Stay tuned to this space for more updates.