The PUBG ban and the gaming of the Indian market

Online games, ban, PUBG
For PUBG, India was one of the biggest markets with over 175 million downloads to date | Image - Eunice Dhivya

On September 2, the Ministry of Information and Technology announced a ban on 118 apps/games/platforms, ostensibly because of their Chinese links. The most prominent among them was PUBG Mobile, a hugely popular gaming app from the Tencent (a major Chinese tech giant) stable. This list updated an earlier one that outlawed 59 apps.

The orders do not appear to have complied with the basic niceties of legal due process, nor do they appear to have factored in the serious consequences for the Indian software ecosystem. It is almost as if citing “security threats” ends the need to present any rational purpose.

Some — especially older Indians — have justified the ban as being necessary in order to wean away youth from sinister and violent gaming experiences. Others have hopefully pretended that the move, by restricting Chinese competition, would boost the Indian gaming industry.

Sadly, however, a more sober evaluation would suggest that the moves are arbitrary and ignore the complex structure of game development and publishing, quite apart from diminishing the experience of gaming that has a growing fan following in India.

To continue reading this article...

You have to be a Premium Subscriber

Start your subscription with a free trial

Enjoy unlimited Eighth column, archives and games on and and many more features.
You will also be supporting ethical and unbiased journalism.
plans start from Rs. 99
Get breaking news and latest updates from India
and around the world on