Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), the mobile game that replaced Playerunknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) after its June 2020 ban, has been reportedly suspended in India. The game is presently unavailable on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India, with reports claiming that the Indian government's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has applied Section 69A of the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000 to suspend the game from India.
Claims made across various reports state that the move to suspend the game was made by the Indian government as a reaction to reports of suicides among minors — leading from addiction of the game. However, neither Meity nor Krafton, the publisher of PUBG Mobile and BGMI, have issued a statement on the ban as of now.
Industry stakeholders said that the ban is a “wait and watch” situation for the industry. Over the past week, an esports competition titled BGMI India Series was hosted, becoming the largest esports tournament in India till date with an overall prize pool of ₹1.5 crore. Now, the move to ban the game could be a setback for India’s nascent esports and online gaming industry.
Rohit Agarwal, founder and director of gaming and lifestyle marketing agency Alpha Zegus, said, “What we have realised by now is mobile games are becoming more unpredictable by the day. I hope a regulatory body comes into play which monitors the games over time, instead of banning them overnight.”
Vishwalok Nath, director of online gaming organisation Esports Premier League, said that there has been no clarity offered behind the reason of the ban, and the industry will need to wait to understand the future of BGMI in India.
In June 2020, BGMI’s predecessor, PUBG Mobile, was banned in India by Meity owing to its ties with China-based internet and gaming organisation, Tencent. The ban was enforced under Section 69A of the Indian IT Act, which states that entities could be banned by the Indian government “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above.”