PUBG said on Tuesday Chinese giant Tencent Games will no longer be the publishing partner of the popular game in India as it attempts to allay concerns of New Delhi, which banned the game and 117 other apps last week.
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Tencent Games published and distributed PUBG Mobile games in India. PUBG Corporation said it is taking over the publishing rights in India, but did not comment on whether its relationship with Tencent changes in other markets.
“Moving forward, PUBG Corporation will take on all publishing responsibilities within the country. 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,” PUBG Corporation said in a statement.
The title, the most popular mobile game in the country to date, said it is “actively monitoring the situation around the recent bans” and is committed to “engaging with its passionate player base in India.”
New Delhi banned 118 Chinese apps last week over privacy and security concerns. The move followed a similar ban on nearly five dozen Chinese apps, including TikTok in June, on similar grounds. India has not named China specifically in either of its ban orders — though its moves have been attributed to the geo-political tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations.
Ji Rong, a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India, said last week that it was “seriously concerned and firmly oppose the Indian government to prohibit the mobile apps with Chinese background with the excuse of ‘national security.”
“We urge the Indian government to rectify the discriminatory practices violating WTO rules, and provide an open, fair and impartial business environment for all market players from various countries including China. The Chinese government has always required Chinese overseas companies to abide by international rules and operate in compliance with laws and regulations,” Rong added.
Prior to the ban, PUBG had about 40 million monthly active users in India and was by far the top app by revenue ahead of Netflix and Tinder in the country, according to one of the most popular mobile insight firms — data of which an industry executive shared with TechCrunch.
“PUBG Corporation fully understands and respects the measures taken by the government as the privacy and security of player data is a top priority for the company. It hopes to work hand-in-hand with the Indian government to find a solution that will allow gamers to once again drop into the battlegrounds while being fully compliant with Indian laws and regulations,” said South Korea-headquartered PUBG Corporation.
Google and Apple have pulled PUBG games and other apps from their respective app stores in compliance with New Delhi’s order. But unlike other apps that have been banned, including TikTok, PUBG games are still operational for existing users in India, several users said. Though, that may change soon.
Tencent also appears to be involved in the development of PUBG titles (PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG MOBILE Lite), which further complicates the matter in India.
“While publishing duties could go to PUBG Corp, will Tencent still handle development of the game? If so, wouldn’t that still be in violation of the way data privacy laws here in India work? This move appears to be a bandaid solution if Tencent still develops the game,” tweeted Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and publisher of news outlet the Mako Reactor.