The Indian government has blocked access to Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), a popular battle royale game from South Korean game development company Krafton, as it was concerned about data sharing and mining in China, an Indian government source told Reuters on Friday. The block comes nearly two years after PUBG Mobile was banned from the country. Section 69A of India’s IT Act allows the government to block public access to content in the interests of national security, among other reasons. Orders issued under the section are generally confidential in nature.
New Delhi used the powers it has under India’s IT law to block Battlegrounds Mobile India, a game by South Korean company Krafton, which is backed by China’s Tencent, relying on a clause it has invoked since 2020 to ban several other Chinese apps over national security concerns, the government official and another source with direct knowledge told Reuters.
Section 69A of the IT Act allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security, among other reasons. Orders issued under the section are generally confidential in nature.
The Indian government has not publicly announced the blockade. But the app was removed from Alphabet’s Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store on Thursday night in India.
Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and non-profit organization Prahar have repeatedly asked the government to investigate “China’s influence” on the BGMI, Prahar President Abhay Mishra told Reuters. SJM is the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
“In the so-called new avatar, BGMI was no different than the old PUBG with Tencent still controlling it in the background,” added Mishra.
The ban sparked strong online reactions from popular gamers in India on Twitter and YouTube.
“I hope our government understands that thousands of esports athletes and content creators and their lives depend on BGMI,” tweeted Abhijeet Andhare, a Twitter user with over 92,000 followers.
“We are clarifying how the BGMI was removed from the Google Play Store and App Store and will let you know as soon as we have specific information,” Krafton told Gadgets 360 earlier today.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that the removal of Battlegrounds Mobile India was the result of a government order. “Upon receiving the order, following the established process, we notified the affected developer and blocked access to the app which remained available on the Play Store in India,” the spokesperson told Gadgets 360. Details of the order are pending.
See how the Indian esports industry responded to BGMI’s blocking of Apple and Google’s app stores.
“We have yet to receive an official statement from the government as to why the game is being removed from the Play Store and the App Store. This is between the publisher and the government and we hope this issue will be resolved soon. For the ESPL it is a waiting time to make further decisions,” said Vishwalok Nath, Director of Esports Premier League.
“The BGMI BAN will definitely be a setback for all major stakeholders such as tournament organizations, esports teams, coaches, support staff, and most importantly the athletes. However, at Revenant Esports, we will still support our BGMI athletes and make sure they use our training center to create content and experience different games. With that said, the whole industry will take a hit, but Revenant was built during the first period of the ban and we always believe in divers. We still have rosters competing in Pokémon Unite, who will represent India at the World Championships in London, Call of Duty Mobile, who will play the regional playoffs of the World Championships, Apex Legends, who previously represented the SEA region at the ALGS Playoffs in Stockholm, Valorant, who currently plays some regional tournaments, allows during these difficult times,” said Rohit Jagasia, Founder and CEO of Revenant Esports.
“All we know is that such occurrences are becoming more common each year and are happening without warning. Not too long ago, we saw a wave of China-based apps being banned overnight, and we also saw Free Fire get the red flag – all happening without any prior notice. Furthermore, with the recent incident of a boy killing his mother over a BGMI argument, the game has once again come under the government’s radar and marked as “unsafe for young adults”. said Rohit Agarwal, founder and director of marketing company Alpha Zegus.
[The] The government has yet to release an official statement in terms of the reasoning behind the ban (given that Krafton has taken almost every possible precaution to release the game within the set guidelines), but what we’ve realized so far is that mobile games are becoming more unpredictable by the day. I hope a regulatory body comes into play that monitors games over time rather than banning them overnight,” added Agarwal.