Explained: Why and how BGMI was blocked in India

New Delhi, August 12 (IANS) After blocking several Chinese apps two years ago, including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) for national security reasons, the Indian government has now blocked the PUBG-like battle royale game Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) which had 100 million of users in India.

Following the government order, tech giants Google and Apple had blocked the BGMI gaming app from their respective online stores at the end of May.

Although there is no official government statement on BGMI ban yet, here is the chronological explanation of how and why BGMI game was removed from Google and Apple app stores in the country.

In November 2020, it was first revealed that PUBG Mobile would be relaunched in India under the new entity “PUBG Mobile India”.

A year after PUBG was banned, South Korean game developer Krafton launched BGMI in 2021 exclusively for game lovers in India.

In the same month, PUBG Studios and South Korean video game company Krafton registered PUBG India Private Ltd with the Ministry of Commercial Affairs to relaunch PUBG Mobile in the country.

In June 2021, a controversy arose following the first beta for Android users that data from users’ Android devices was sent to Chinese servers owned by Tencent.

Following the data sharing breach, Krafton has released an update to resolve the data sharing issue with China-based servers.

Krafton announced the launch of the BGMI game in May 2021. The game was finally released on July 2 for Android devices and August 18 for iOS devices.

Within a year, BGMI surpassed 100 million registered users.

Last year, Krafton said it invested nearly $100 million to improve Indian video game, esports and entertainment startups to create a healthy gaming startup ecosystem.

According to experts, in the so-called new avatar, BGMI was no different from the old PUBG, with China-based Tencent still controlling it in the background.

In February this year, the non-profit organization Prahar wrote to the Ministry of Interior (MHA) and the Ministry of Information Technology (MeitY) to block the “Chinese app BGMI” under Article 69A of the Information Technology Act because it “poses a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the defense of India, state security and public order”.

Following the government order, the tech giants pulled the popular Battle Royale game from their respective app stores on July 28.

However, the game can be played by users who have already installed the app.

During the company’s quarterly earnings call on Thursday, Krafton chief financial officer Bae Dong-geun said the company respects and understands the Indian government’s concern.

“We directly manage the service based on strict data security standards and oversight. We will work closely with the authorities to find ways for users in India to continue enjoying BGMI,” Dong-geun said.

After the government ordered Google and Apple to ban BGMI, some gaming companies wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for “fair treatment” to help foster the gaming ecosystem in the country.

The government has so far banned more than 270 Chinese apps. Several of these apps rebranded themselves into new avatars to enter India, but were again banned.

(Except for the title, the rest of this IANS article is unedited)

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Explained: Why and how BGMI was blocked in India

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