Spooked by India ban, PUBG parent revokes Tencent publishing rights

Spooked by India ban, PUBG parent revokes Tencent publishing rights
Photo Credit: Reuters
8 Sep, 2020

PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Krafton, said on Tuesday that it has revoked the publishing license of the game from Tencent Holdings in India.

The statement comes after India banned 118 Chinese origin apps earlier this month. The ban included PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)  Mobile and PUBG Mobile Nordik Map: Livik. 

Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent Holdings has the publishing rights for the mobile version of the PUBG Mobile. The PC version of the game continues to be published by Krafton. Tencent also holds a minority stake in Krafton at 5%.

Given the current geo-political standoff between India and China, PUBG was banned due to its links to the Chinese holding entity. 

“In light of recent developments, PUBG Corporation has made the decision to no longer authorize the PUBG MOBILE franchise to Tencent Games in India. Moving forward, PUBG Corporation will take on all publishing responsibilities within the country,” the statement published by Krafton said. 

“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,” it added.

According to Siddharth Mahajan, partner at law firm Athena Legal, the move gives PUBG grounds to appeal to the committee set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on the ban. 

“It is likely that PUBG post change of ownership for India will make a representation to committee set up by MeitY submitting that with change of ownership will remove all likelihood of non-compliance of Indian data laws. Like in the US where TikTok is looking at a change in ownership, a similar move can change the presumption that the game is owned by Chinese entities,” Mahajan told TechCircle.

He added that the change in FDI rules to prevent a hostile takeover by Chinese entities will not come into play in case PUBG wants to set up office in India. 

The ban on PUBG Mobile was carried out under Section 69A of Information Technology Act. The reasoning given was that the apps surreptitiously transferred user’s data outside of India and posed a threat to India’s security.

Previously the government had banned a list of 59 apps including short video platform TikTok in June on similar grounds. TikTok is reportedly in conversation with Jio and Softbank to sell its India business for a change in ownership.