The Indian government banned a list of 118 more Chinese apps on Wednesday (September 2). The ban has been implemented in the interest of ‘sovereignty and integrity of India’.
The ban was enforced by invoking Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, on grounds that “these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
“This move would safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users,” said the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
This ban includes the widely popular PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG). The recent ban also includes Arena of Valor, one of the most popular mobile games in the MOBA category.
This is not the first time the government has banned mobile games and apps.
Earlier in the year, several popular apps of Chinese origin were banned due to similar concerns. The previous bans on Chinese games apps included popular games like Clash of Kings and Mobile Legends Bang Bang. Both games are extremely popular worldwide. Mobile Legends Bang Bang has also been played as a medal event in the Esports competition during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
Towards the end of June 2020, the Indian government had banned a total of 59 different Chinese-made apps. Following this, almost 50 more Chinese apps were banned. Most of them were suspected to be operating as clones to the banned apps. The government has also placed several hundred Chinese apps on a watchlist at the time, including PUBG.
In India, PUBG MOBILE was one of the most popular mobile games played. According to an article published by Essence (a company specialising in advertising based of analytics), PUBG MOBILE had seen over 50 million downloads and 33 million active users in India.
PUBG, despite this immense popularity, is still being banned. It is, however, important to note that the ban only affects the mobile version of the game. This mobile version of the game is owned and operated by Tencent, a Chinese Tech Giant. For all other platforms, the game is owned and managed by Bluehole/Krafton union of South Korea.
Tencent has several other notable investments in gaming outside PUBG as well. These include League of Legends (LOL), Ubisoft (a studio famous for games such as Assassin’s Creed), and Activision Blizzard (company behind Call of Duty).
This is not the first time the game has faced action from the Indian Government. In early 2019, PUBG MOBILE had been banned in several cities of Gujarat. At the time, arrests were also made to enforce the ban. This ban was brought in because parents, along with several authority figures, had raised concerns about the game affecting the children’s studies.