Back in September, when the Indian government banned PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds aka PUBG, the sizable gaming community in the country was shook to the core. At more than 175 million downloads at the time, its departure left a big void for gamers and streamers alike.
Krafton, the South Korean maker of the title, was quick to promise that this was not the end of the road in its largest market. In November, it said it would address the security concerns raised by the government and launch a new India-specific version of PUBG with features and policies especially curated for the market.
Now, about seven months later, that game has debuted as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI).
Available in beta, the title has already raked in over five million downloads. But the question is, has Krafton done enough to prevent BGMI from being banned all over again?
Well, initial reports suggest that BGMI may have already run into some trouble.
Responding to queries from TechCircle, a Krafton spokesperson said in an email, “...KRAFTON is fully aware of the recent concerns over data handling in regard to Battlegrounds Mobile India Early Access test... KRAFTON is taking the concerns raised very seriously and has taken immediate, concrete actions to address this issue.”
But, how does the game itself score? Here’s the rundown.
Gameplay remains largely unchanged
Given the popularity of PUBG, Krafton has kept the same gameplay for Battlegrounds Mobile India.
You can choose the team, mode, and map of your choice and then battle it out against other online players while scavenging for various kinds of guns, outfits, and other in-game items.
Anyone who has played the original title would fit right into the new one, whether they are playing Erangel, Miramar, Livik, Karain and Sanhok in Classic mode, or a 4X4 Team Deathmatch. The communication and shopping elements also remain unchanged as players get controls to turn the microphone on/off depending on their preference.
Green blood and more
While the game and gameplay largely remain unchanged, there are certain changes that players will definitely notice.
First of all, the animation of blood that appears when a target is hit has been changed from red splatters to green feathers. The move, although against pre-school biology and gaming immersiveness, has been made in an effort to tone down the portrayal of violence, something that many parents had flagged in PUBG Mobile. There’s a dedicated setting that lets users choose between yellow, green, and dark green options.
However, in our opinion, it hardly does any good because at the end of the day this is still a battle royale and you will end up shooting a bunch of other players’ characters.
Krafton has also replaced the word ‘kills’ with ‘finishes’ in another effort to sensitize young players and prevent them from getting too aggressive while gaming.
Audio and visual warnings
Another noticeable change is the introduction of audio and visual warnings -- aimed at preventing addictive gaming.
Starting from the initial set up to starting a match, Krafton has placed audio and visual warnings at different spots to make sure users are frequently reminded that they are in a virtual simulation and not in a real-world scenario.
In one of the audio warnings, Krafton says, “This game is a simulation in a virtual world and does not represent the real world. Please play in moderation and take frequent breaks.”
As you move on, other heavily worded notices show up, reminding players to maintain their health by correcting posture, staying hydrated, and limiting screen time with regular breaks.
Similarly, age check prompts also appear asking players if they are aged 18 or not. Krafton says that if underage children have downloaded the game without permission, parents/guardians can ask the company to delete their information.
However, despite being pronounced, these notices do not seem to ruin the gaming experience and can easily be ignored by players willing to go on a gaming marathon.
Hence, addictive gaming still remains a possibility.
Fixes before final release
Having that said, despite the initial hiccups, Battlegrounds Mobile India seems to have gotten off to a solid start.
The idea of keeping the original experience of PUBG seems to be paying off and driving downloads, but this also means that the game may draw further scrutiny from Indian authorities, especially given the recent involvement of Chinese servers.
CAIT has already written a letter asking the government to ban the title.
IGN, reputed media org fr gaming has conducted "sting operation" through data sniffer software & found out Krafton is secretly sending Indian data to China Mobile Communication Co-op.— Suresh Nakhua ( सुरेश नाखुआ ) (@SureshNakhua) June 20, 2021
Ma'am @m_lekhi ji Request u to plz investigate before its too late. There is hard evidence now. https://t.co/n58G3eGsYe
Yes, there are features to combat ruthless gaming but it looks like a half-hearted attempt with the messaging aimed more towards responsible gaming and less application. Maybe, Krafton would fix this and introduce more responsible gaming features with the final release of the game.