Dr. Rushindra Sinha (yes, he is an MD), CEO and founder of India-based Global Esports, has what one might call some “strong medicine” for fans and esports professionals in his home country who have been hoping that the government will finally lift the ban on Krafton’s popular mobile battle royale game, Battlegrounds Mobile India.
There have been dozens of stories in December and January that the game would be unbanned this month, and more recently, sometime in February, or even late-March to early-April. Some of these rumors have come from professional players and organizations claiming to have inside knowledge, while some seem to be pulled out of thin air.
PUBG Mobile, which was launched in March of 2018, was banned 30 months later in September of 2020 along with many other apps from China. In a move to satisfy the government’s concerns that the publisher at the time (Chinese conglomerate Tencent) might be sharing information with China (who India has been having a a border dispute with for a very long time), Krafton dropped Tencent as a partner in the region and moved servers for the game onto Indian soil. Next it built a brand new game just for India, Battlegrounds Mobile India, which launched in July of 2021 and enjoyed a lot of success until—once again—the Indian government banned the game in July of 2022.
While some of the blame on this second ban could be placed on the government’s continued belief that Indian user data still wasn’t secure and might be being shared with the Chinese government somehow, a number of high-profile stories about young players exhibiting bad behavior and—in some isolated incidents—physical violence, the government determined that the game was a bad influence on the youth of India.
In this context, and likely frustrated by the continual rumors that the popular mobile game would be returning, Sinha posted a thread on social media earlier this week with his strong opinions on the matter.
“IMO the game isn’t coming back, if it was going to come back it would have by now, the silence from the publisher and the government should be telling enough, the fact that the company that Krafton invested in is hosting a 1cr [roughly $123K USD] New State India LAN should be telling enough,” he wrote in a thread on social media.
Later he added that dwelling on a game that isn’t coming back (rumors have also been circulating that Free Fire, which was banned at about the same time, would also be making a triumphant return at some point too) is damaging to fans, professional organizations, and the overall ecosystem:
“I’m all for Hopium and Copium but at this point it’s just purely misleading and detrimental to the ecosystem for everyone to just ‘wait’ for the game’s return. That’s literally the world’s WORST business model – and then people wonder why esports orgs aren’t sustainable.”
But not everyone in the BGMI community agrees with Sinha’s assessment, likely because popular content creators in India such as Classified YT (who has 2.5M followers on YouTube and posts regular update videos on the topic), and team leaders in India such as Orangutan Esports founder Yash Bhanushali continue to say that the game will return. Some of this likely comes from reliable sources, but none of it seems to be coming from the one source that really matters: the Indian government and the agency in charge of it all – MeiTY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India)…