The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has reportedly clarified that it has only blocked specific PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) applications and not the entire entity of PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean gaming company Krafton.
In response to an RTI query by GEMWire, the ministry said that it has only blocked access to PUBG Mobile Nordic App: Livik App and PUBG Mobile Lite under the provisions of Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000.
This implies that the publisher of the aforementioned titles, PUBG Corporation, is not banned in the country and any other application or game released by the firm would not be subject to the same restrictions.
The development comes two months after PUBG Corporation announced an India-specific version of the game, titled PUBG Mobile India. The company said at the time that it would set up a local unit in the country with about 100 employees and invest $100 million to promote local video games, esports and the local IT industry.
However, there is no clarity on when, if it all, PUBG Mobile India will be released.
The RTI response, as per GEMWire, states that there has been no formal dialogue between PUBG Corporation and the IT Ministry regarding the return of the game. A person familiar with the developments told Insidesport that there has been little progress in the matter and they don’t see PUBG making a comeback, at least not before March 2021.
The ban on the two PUBG titles was imposed in September 2020, allegedly because they surreptitiously sent user data to servers located outside India and posed a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order. The same order also affected 116 apps, mostly Chinese ones.
Since then, PUBG Corporation has taken various measures to get the game, which had a massive local fan base, back in the country. First, it took away China’s Tencent Holdings’ mobile publishing rights for the game in India. Tencent holds a 5% stake in Krafton.
In November, as it announced an Indian version of the game, the company said it would conduct regular audits and verifications to ensure the safety and security of Indian players’ data. The company had reportedly approached Indian firms such as Paytm and Airtel to publish the game and gain the government’s trust.