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PUBG Mobile seeks to dodge India ban by severing links with China’s Tencent

By Nadeem Sarwar September 8, 2020, 9:21 pm

Earlier this month, the Indian government banned PUBG Mobile in the country citing risks to the privacy of users and security of the nation. The ban came as a shocker for players as well the company behind the game – PUBG Corporation. After all, PUBG Mobile is one of the most popular mobile games in the country and alone accounts for 24% of the net 734 million global downloads for the game so far. The reason behind the ban was the Chinese roots of Tencent, the company that handles publishing duties for the game in India. Now, PUBG Corporation is trying to escape the PUBG Mobile ban in India by severing ties with Tencent for publishing the game in the country. 

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“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,” PUBG Corporation said in an official statement. The company also emphasized that PUBG Mobile is an intellectual property owned and developed by PUBG Corporation, a South Korean gaming company. Eliminating China’s Tencent from the picture – which appears to be the primary bone of contention for the Indian government in view of the recent border clashes between the two countries – appears to solve the ban issue on the surface, but there is more to the picture. 

With Tencent gone, PUBG Corporation will not only have to handle the publishing duties in India, but it will also have to address the issue of finding another partner for hosting PUBG Mobile esports tournaments and related events in India. PUBG Corporation can do so itself, but the transition will not be as easy as it appears. On top of that, PUBG Corporation will also be left with another huge question – who will handle the development process of PUBG Mobile in the absence of Tencent? And if Tencent only loses publishing responsibilities and is still engaged in game development, won’t it again put PUBG Mobile under the government’s scanner?

Then there is also the responsibility of finding partners to organize PUBG  Mobile competitions in India, running the marketing campaigns, partnering with esports teams and negotiating contracts with existing stakeholders. As mentioned earlier, PUBG Corporation’s quest to avoid the PUBG Mobile ban in India by removing the China element (read: Tencent) will leave it with more shoes to fill than anticipated and risks slowing down the meteoric momentum gained by the game in India, which is another huge concern.

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