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‘Cutting China ties may not necessarily mean ban reversal for PUBG, other apps’

On September 2, the central government had banned 118 apps apps with Chinese links citing concerns over threats to India’s safety and sovereignty.

Written by Aashish Aryan | New Delhi |
Updated: September 10, 2020 11:42:17 am
PUBG Mobile shuts completely in India

Even as the PUBG Corp, the parent firm of popular battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), has snapped ties with Chinese tech giant Tencent in an effort to try and make its comeback to India, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has hinted that just a change in the ownership off the app would not lead to reversal on the ban anytime in near future.

“The ownership of the app is obviously one of the issues. But that is not the only issue. There are about 70 issues to be dealt with, including how and where the data of the users was stored, how it was being processed and whether there have been any known breaches of sensitive personal information,” a senior official from the Ministry said.

On September 2, the central government had banned 118 apps apps with Chinese links citing concerns over threats to India’s safety and sovereignty.

These apps were banned in addition to the 59 that had been banned on June 29.

Both the rounds of the app ban came amidst continuing border tension and skirmishes on the Line of Actual Control with China.

Nearly a week later, PUBG Corporation had on September 7 said that it had made the decision to no longer authorise the PUBG MOBILE franchise to Tencent Games in India.


Market for Chinese apps may be getting thinner

With governments across the world putting pressure on Chinese apps for their alleged roles in passing on data to Chinese probe and intelligence agencies, the market for such apps may start getting thinner with passing time. Apart from PUBG, other players such as TikTok parent ByteDance have been looking to snap their Chinese ties to enable the app to continue functioning in some way or the other.

“Moving forward, PUBG Corporation will take on all publishing responsibilities within the country.

“As the company explores ways to provide its own PUBG experience for India in the near future, it is committed to doing so by sustaining a localized and healthy gameplay environment for its fans,” the company had said in a statement.

Officials from MeitY, however, said that just changing the “beneficial ownership” of the app would not lead to a reversal of the decision of ban.

“As a business entity they are free to change partnerships, make or break ties with companies or countries. Our ban was based on multiple factors, including protecting our data sovereignty,” the official said.

According to data by SensorTower, PUBG Mobile and the game’s Chinese version, Game For Peace, together have 734 million downloads globally. India ranks first in terms of downloads, generating about 175 million installs as of July, or 24 per cent of the total.

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