Eight months after the Indian government banned PUBG Mobile, the makers of the immensely popular game say it will be back in a new avatar ‘soon’.
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PUBG to return as Battlegrounds Mobile India
GIF Source: Tenor
South Korean video game developer Krafton is bringing back its popular gaming title PUBG Mobile to India under the brand name ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India.’ The company said it will open pre-registrations ‘soon’.
Recap: The Indian government had banned PUBG last year along with more than 260 Chinese apps such as TikTok, Shareit, Helo, and UC Browser amid border tensions with China. PUBG was banned because Chinese internet giant Tencent was the publishing partner of the original game.
On Thursday, Krafton said it will work with partners to “ensure data protection and security at each stage, with privacy and data security being a top priority. This will ensure privacy rights are respected, and all data collection and storage will be in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in India and for players here.”
Why does it matter? India is the biggest market for PUBG, accounting for more than 28.8% of the game’s 644 million downloads as of September last year, according to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. Before the ban, the game had about 40-50 million monthly active users in India. It still had over 10 million users in the country as of last month, according to TechCrunch, with several gamers sidestepping the ban with VPNs and other workarounds.
The move also comes a month after Krafton applied for preliminary approval for an IPO. It is expected to be one of the biggest Korean listings this year.
Timeline: PUBG in India
September 3, 2020: India bans PUBG and 118 Chinese apps over concerns about data security and, for engaging in activities prejudicial to the country’s “sovereignty and integrity”.
September 8, 2020: PUBG Corporation cuts its publishing ties with Tencent for PUBG Mobile and takes over all publishing responsibilities within the country.
September 25, 2020: PUBG Corporation parent Krafton announces a merger between both the entities, with Krafton absorbing PUBG Corporation’s publishing and support teams.
November 7, 2020: Krafton inks a global partnership with Microsoft Azure to host its games including the PC and mobile versions of PUBG.
November 12, 2020: PUBG Corporation says it will set up a subsidiary in India and launch an India-specific version of the game. It also pledges to invest $100 million in India to cultivate the country’s local video game, esports, entertainment, and IT industry ecosystems.
December 2020: PUBG Corporation completes its merger with parent company Krafton and rebrands itself PUBG Studio.
March 2021: Krafton picks up a 15% stake in Nazara Technologies-backed Nodwin Gaming for Rs 164 crore. This comes about a fortnight after it roped in former Yoozoo Games India chief executive Anuj Tandon as head of corporate development for India, the Middle East, and North Africa regions.
What next? Krafton said it will collaborate with partners to build an esports ecosystem while regularly bringing in-game content, starting with a series of India specific in-game events.
- The new game will also have to make up for lost ground in the esports segment as several gamers and esports organisations have shifted to other gaming titles like Sea’s Garena Free Fire, Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Mobile, and SuperCell’s Clash of Clans.
Second wave hit Uber’s India business, says CEO
Uber’s business in India has been adversely affected by the second Covid-19 wave and renewed lockdown-like curbs across the country, said chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi during the ride-hailing giant’s first-quarter earnings call.
India vs other markets: This is in contrast to markets like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, where the company is witnessing a strong recovery in booking. US bookings have recovered to 62% of April 2019-levels, while overall bookings in the UK have rebounded to 80% due to high vaccination rates in these countries.
Food delivery drives growth: Uber’s food delivery business Uber Eats more than doubled its bookings to $12.5 billion for the quarter, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the company’s overall bookings of $19.5 billion, representing 24% growth year-over-year (YoY).
Uber posted revenues of $2.9 billion for the quarter, while its net losses dropped to $108 million from $968 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. This fall in losses is however largely due to Uber’s sale of its self-driving unit to Aurora.
India’s mobility market – including cabs, auto rickshaws and bike taxis — recovered to around 69% of pre-pandemic levels in March, according to market tracker RedSeer Consulting. But this was expected to drop to 30-40% with major markets such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka in near-lockdown.
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