South Korean gaming company Krafton will relaunch the India version of its popular game – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), for mobile users.
This will come in a new avatar called Battlegrounds Mobile India.
Krafton has not set a timeline for the launch of the mobile multiplayer game in the country.
In September last year, PUBG Mobile, which was published in India by Chinese internet giant Tencent, was banned along with other Chinese apps after a prolonged border standoff between the neighbours.
Following the ban, PUBG Corp, the subsidiary of Krafton, severed ties with Tencent for India.
“Battlegrounds Mobile India will release with exclusive in-game events like outfits and features and will have its own esports ecosystem with tournaments and leagues. The game will launch as a free-to-play experience on mobile devices,” Krafton said in a statement.
In November, PUBG Corp said it would set up an Indian subsidiary and launch a new India specific version of the game. The company, along with parent Krafton, said it would invest $100 million to revive business in its largest market in terms of number of users.
Before it was banned, India accounted for over 175 million downloads — about a quarter of the global figure — according to SensorTower data.
“The announcement of Battlegrounds Mobile India boosts India’s growing mobile gaming market,” said Rupantar Guha, associate project manager, thematic research, Global Data, which estimates the mobile gaming market in the country to be worth over $1 billion in 2021.
“Battle royale games are increasingly popular in India and considering the demand for PUBG Mobile before the ban, Krafton’s adoption of an Indianized content strategy should ensure the new game’s success,” Guha added.
Krafton will have to push hard to make up lost ground in the esports segment that PUBG pioneered in India, he said, as several gamers and esports organisations have transitioned to alternative titles like Sea’s Garena Free Fire, Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Mobile, and SuperCell’s Clash of Clans, following the ban.
Krafton’s investment will be the largest by a South Korean firm in India, outside of the manufacturing sector.
“It’s good to see that Krafton has considered the Indian requirements and has modified the game and this will surely fuel the Indian esports ecosystem,” said Lokesh Suji, director, Esports Federation of India and vice president, Asian Esports Federation.
“Krafton has been already taking positive initiatives in the Indian market in the last few months which…highlights the capability of the esports ecosystem in India,” Suji added.
The company will have a pre-registration period before launch.
“Krafton will collaborate with partners to build an esports ecosystem while bringing in-game content regularly, starting with a series of India specific in-game events at launch, to be announced later,” said the company.
The launch will also boost the larger gaming ecosystem in India.
Tarun Gupta, founder of online esports platform Ultimate Battle, said it would add Battlegrounds Mobile India to its platform as soon as it launches and expect the game to cross a million downloads within a week.
“We believe the content creators community will get a major boost once the game is launched and it will fuel our ambition of creating a unique ecosystem for the gaming content creators to make a serious career out of their passion,” said Shivam Rao, chief operating officer of gaming talent management firm Trinity Gaming.
PUBG developer Krafton will have to make up lost ground in the esports segment, as several gamers and esports organisations have shifted to other titles like Sea’s Garena Free Fire, Activision Blizzard’s COD: Mobile, & SuperCell’s Clash of Clans.