Garena Free Fire, a popular battle royale game, has been banned by the Indian government earlier today. The move marks the second popular game with millions of players in the country that has been banned, after Tencent’s erstwhile PUBG Mobile was banned in the country.
The latest ban, enforced by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), appears to have targeted NetEase, reportedly the second largest gaming company of China after Tencent Gaming. The latter reported annual revenues of $3.4 billion in Q3 2021, and a number of its games have been banned in India now – such as Onmyoji Chess, Onmyoji Arena, Badlanders, Astracraft and more.
Free Fire, however, is developed and published by Garena, which is the gaming subsidiary of the Singapore-based Sea Limited. The latter counts China’s Tencent as one of its biggest investors.
Free Fire India did not offer a statement on the imposition of the ban, at the time of publishing of the report.
When contacted, a Google India spokesperson said, “On receipt of the interim order passed under Section 69A of the IT Act, following established process, we have notified the affected developers and have temporarily blocked access to the apps that remained available on the Play Store in India.
However, while all versions of the Free Fire game has been banned from both the Apple App Store, the ‘Max’ variant of the game remains available on the Google Play Store at the time of publishing of the report.
Free Fire was one of the biggest benefactors of the ban on PUBG Mobile, which was imposed in September 2020. However, since then, the latter was relaunched by PUBG’s Korean holding company, Krafton, under the guise of Battlegrounds Mobile India.
Talking about the ban on the game, professional Free Fire players such as PVS Gaming and Total Gaming stated that a blanket ban on the game could hurt many that have pursued professional careers in the game, and hoped for it to be reinstated in the future.