India blocks Krafton’s battle royale game BGMI two years after PUBG was banned – TechCrunch

Google has pulled popular battle royale game Battlegrounds Mobile India, popularly known as BGMI, from its Play Store in India after a government order, a year after developer Krafton launched the app. following a ban on its other similar title PUBG in the South Asian market. The BGMI game has also been removed from Apple’s app store in the country.

The Android maker confirmed the development shortly after the story was published. “Upon receipt of the order, in accordance with established process, we notified the affected developer and blocked access to the app which remained available on the Play Store in India,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch.

The app was delisted by Google from the Play Store on Thursday night, and Krafton himself pulled the app from Apple’s App Store soon after, a person with direct knowledge told TechCrunch. of the case. The iPhone maker did not respond to a request for comment.

A Krafton spokesperson acknowledged the delisting and said the company is seeking clarification. Krafton shares fell more than 9% on Friday, until a partial recovery.

The development follows growing tension between India and China, two neighboring nuclear-armed nations that have been particularly at odds since deadly skirmishes along the Himalayan border in 2020. India has since reacted to this decision by banning more than 300 China-related apps, including PUBG. and TikTok, both of which counted India as their biggest overseas market in terms of users.

Of the hundreds of apps New Delhi banned in the country, Krafton’s PUBG was the only title that made a comeback – although with a completely redesigned avatar.

Krafton said he had sever ties with its publishing partner Tencentwho is also a major investor in the company, and pledged to invest $100 million in India’s gaming ecosystem. Krafton – which has backed a number of Indian startups including Nodwin Gaming, Loco, Pratilipi and Kuku FM over the past year and a half – told TechCrunch earlier this week that he estimates his investment in India will hit around $140 million by next month. .

The South Korea-based company said earlier this week that over 100 million users have registered for the game in India in the year since launch. According to Sensor Tower, Battlegrounds Mobile India had over 16.5 million monthly active users in the country.

It was unclear why the Indian government ordered to block Battlegrounds Mobile India. New Delhi has cited national security concerns over the banning of other apps. (Reuters reported on Friday that India had banned BGMI under section 69A of the local computer law.)

Last month, a local media report – the authenticity of which has been questioned by many – claimed that a child had killed his mother under the influence of gambling. The report gained popularity on the networks social and reached the national parliament this month. India’s IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said last week that law enforcement was investigating the matter.

Indian authorities have raided local offices of Chinese phone makers Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo in recent months and brought charges of tax evasion against them. Chinese Embassy in India criticized Indian authorities earlier this month for “frequent surveys” in the local units of telephone manufacturers and warned that such moves “impede the improvement of [the] business environment” in India and “chills the confidence and willingness” of companies from other foreign countries to invest and operate in the South Asian country.

Krafton has repeatedly said that BGMI and PUBG are different games, and said the company has safeguards in place – such as enforcing a time limit on the use of its games, authentication of connection – to fight against any misuse of its titles.

“The game is hugely popular and those issues come with the territory. We don’t know the details of the fraud and how it was committed, but these are extreme cases. We are constantly working to ensure a safe gaming experience for users,” Krafton India CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn told TechCrunch earlier this week.

He added: “The government does not interfere in which applications can work and which cannot. They intervene in digital security and privacy issues, and BGMI follows all guidelines. MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) also noted that PUBG and BGMI are different games,” he added.

Hyunil Sohn said the company is willing to invest an additional $100 million or more into the Indian gaming ecosystem this year.

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