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The South Korean maker of popular mobile game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, is looking to partner an Indian gaming firm in an attempt to resurrect its fortunes in its biggest market.

This comes close on the heels of PUBG Corp. severing ties with Chinese gaming firm Tencent Games after PUBG figured among 118 Chinese apps banned by the Indian government as part of a broader military, political and economic response against China post deadly border clashes in June.

A person aware of the negotiations said a new licensing agreement is in the works with an Indian gaming firm to pass on the rights to run the PUBG Mobile game in India.

Unlike earlier, PUBG Corp. will now retain the publishing rights for the game, with the Indian partner handling the distribution.

PUBG did not answer queries emailed by Mint. PUBG Corp. is a unit of South Korea’s Bluehole Games.

To be sure, it is not yet known whether a potential pact with an Indian firm will lead to the lifting of the ban imposed by the government.

“Ownership is only one of the concerns. But there are several other issues, based on which the ban has been ordered. The concerns are related to data privacy security, activity inside the phone, etc.," a senior government official told Mint on Tuesday. After the ban was imposed, the government sent over 70 queries to PUBG, which the company will have to respond to within three weeks.

In a statement on Monday, PUBG Corp. said it “hopes to work" with the Indian government and get the app operational again.

According to industry executives, there are very few firms in India who can operate a game as large as PUBG. Among them, Paytm First Games already has a partnership with Garena Freefire, a competitor for PUBG. While there have been rumours about Reliance Jio taking over the PUBG license in India, there is no confirmation so far. Jio didn’t respond to queries.

India’s ban of Chinese apps has made Tencent one of the biggest losers, joining short-video platform TikTok, which was banned earlier.

According to industry experts, PUBG Mobile made over $100 million in 2019 from in-app purchases in India.

Oliver Jones, CEO of Bombay Play, a game development firm, said the Indian distributor for PUBG Mobile should be responsible for developing country-specific content, handling PUBG tournaments and localizing data from users.

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