After blocking several Chinese apps two years back, including PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) over national security concerns, the Indian government has now blocked the PUBG-like battle royale game Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) that had 100 million users in India.
Following the government order, tech giants Google and Apple had blocked the BGMI gaming app from their respective online stores late last month.
Although there is no official government statement on the BGMI ban yet, here is the chronological explanation of how and why the BGMI game was taken down from Google and Apple app stores in the country.
In November 2020, it was revealed for the first time that PUBG Mobile would be relaunched in India under the new entity 'PUBG Mobile India'.
A year after the ban of PUBG, South Korean games developer Krafton launched BGMI in 2021, exclusively for gaming enthusiasts in India.
In the same month, PUBG Studios and South Korea's video game company Krafton registered PUBG India Private Ltd under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in order to relaunch PUBG Mobile in the country.
In June 2021, controversy erupted following the early beta release for Android users that data from users' Android devices was being sent to Tencent-owned China servers.
Following the data-sharing violation, Krafton issued an update to resolve the data-sharing issue with China-based servers.
Krafton announced the launch of the BGMI game in May 2021. The game was finally released on July 2 for Android devices and August 18 for iOS devices.
In a span of one year, BGMI has surpassed 100 million registered users.
Last year, Krafton said it invested nearly $100 million to improve India's local video game, e-sports, and entertainment startups to build a healthy gaming start-up ecosystem.
As per experts, in the so-called new avatar, the BGMI was no different from erstwhile PUBG, with China-based Tencent still controlling it in the background.
In February this year, non-profit organisation, Prahar, wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the IT Ministry (MeitY) to block the "Chinese app BGMI" under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, as it "poses a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, and public order".
Following the government's order, the tech giants pulled the popular battle royale game from their respective app stores on July 28.
However, the game can be played by users who have already installed the app.
During the company's quarterly earnings call on Thursday, Krafton CFO Bae Dong-geun said the company respects and understands the Indian government's concern.
"We have been directly running the service based on stringent data security standards and monitoring. We will closely cooperate with the authorities to find ways for the users in India to keep enjoying BGMI," Dong-geun said.
After the government ordered Google and Apple to ban BGMI, some gaming companies have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting for a 'fair treatment' to help foster the gaming ecosystem in the country.
The government has, to date, banned over 270 Chinese apps. Several such apps rechristened themselves in new avatars to enter India but were banned again.