According to a letter quickly redacted from its social media channels yesterday, PUBG Mobile and, by extension, PUBG Mobile Lite will cease to operate in India today, Oct. 30, 2020. The move, made to comply with an order by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, will see access to the game servers presumably blocked from Indian IPs, spelling an abrupt end to one of the country’s most popular video games.
Both apps were technically already banned by the Indian government over privacy fears surrounding the game’s Chinese origins following an altercation along the country’s border. Though players were still easily able to circumvent the app’s delisting from the Google Play Store and access the servers and their accounts as they normally would. Now, things have taken a more direct and dire approach despite the earlier report that the game’s licensor, PUBG Corporation, had stripped Tencent of the rights to publish the game and were moving to find a new local partner to reissue the game in-line with the Indian government’s guidelines.
The complete statement, now curiously hidden away on the game’s official website, reads as follows:
To comply with the interim order of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology dated September 2, 2020, Tencent Games will terminate all service and access for users in India to PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG MOBILE Lite (together, “PUBG Mobile”) on October 30, 2020. The rights to publish PUBG MOBILE in India will be returned to the owner of the PUBG intellectual property.
We deeply regret this outcome, and sincerely thank you for your support and love for PUBG MOBILE in India.
It was less than a year ago that PUBG Mobile put out a genuinely entertaining drama series featuring an all-Indian cast that told culturally relevant stories based around the game and its players. Each episode amassed millions of views, all but highlighting the popularity of the game not only within India, but around the world. In a country where smartphones feature more prominently in gaming than dedicated consoles, the conversion of a once complex and genre-pioneering title ported to a more readily available platform allowed the early streaming success of the full PUBG experience to accelerate its already staggeringly fast worldwide adoption. Now, with the assumed lack of progress on the re-publishing effort, PUBG Mobile is being forced to abandon a country that embraced and facilitated its rapid expansion. For now, at least.
It’s unclear whether this is truly a new development or simply a last-minute announcement. We’ve known for some time that PUBG Corporation pulled away from its licensing agreement with Tencent not long after PUBG Mobile was placed on the banned apps list just a few short months ago. Around the same time, PUBG Corporation announced plans to look into re-releasing the game in a state the Indian government would allow, including giving the publishing rights to a local telecoms firm. Whether talks are still going ahead is anyone’s guess, but until we have clarification, it’s hard to say whether this is the definite end of PUBG Mobile in India or not.
Disclaimer: Fanbyte is owned by Tencent, which also runs Tencent Games, developer and publisher of PUBG Mobile. Tencent also subsidizes much of Fanbyte’s PUBG Mobile coverage by covering freelancer budget costs. Those covering PUBG Mobile for the site have no contact with Tencent, however, and are given complete creative control to write whatever they wish.