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Business News/ News / India/  BGMI’s return may spur investments, gaming prize money
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BGMI’s return may spur investments, gaming prize money

Prior to being taken down from Play Store and App Store, BGMI had amassed over 100 million users, while its esports tournaments attracted 200 million viewers, according to Krafton.

The ban impacted several gaming companies in India. afpPremium
The ban impacted several gaming companies in India. afp

New Delhi: The gaming industry has welcomed the return of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), a mobile game that was banned by the government in July last year. The game, which is run by South Korean Krafton Inc, is a spin-off of PlayerUnknown’s Battleground Mobile (PUBG Mobile), which was banned by the government earlier.

According to experts, BGMI was among the most successful mobile games ever in the Indian market, and led to significant investments in the industry.

Before BGMI, tournaments built around PUBG used to have crores of rupees in prize money, and BGMI followed in that game’s footsteps.

As a result, the government’s ban hurt revenues for many gaming firms, including large ones like Nazara Technologies.

Krafton Inc India, the subsidiary of South Korean video game developer Krafton Inc, announced on Friday that it will soon relaunch BGMI in the country after getting a go ahead. “We are grateful to Indian authorities for allowing us to resume operations of BGMI. It will be available for download soon," said Sean Hyunil Sohn, CEO of Krafton Inc India.

“While the game is set to undergo certain changes to ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience for users upon its comeback on a trial period, it is encouraging to see the government bringing these safety measures for the youth of the country," said Lokesh Suji, director, Esports Federation of India & vice president of the Asian Esports Federation, calling the game’s return a “much-needed boost" for the Indian esports community.

Prior to being taken down from Play Store and App Store, BGMI had amassed over 100 million users, while its esports tournaments attracted 200 million viewers, according to Krafton. At the time of the ban, professional gamers and eSports firms had expressed concerns over the void it would create in the nascent competitive gaming segment in India.

“There has been a dry spell in the mobile competitive scenario for a while now, and this announcement is definitely making many stakeholders happy. Tournaments of all scales can restart, and players/content creators who have been on pause can resume," said Rohit Agarwal, founder and director of Alpha Zegus, an influencer marketing firm.

“This is a 3 month trial approval of #BGMI after it has complied with issues of server locations and data security etc. We will keep a close watch on other issues of User harm, Addiction etc in next 3 months before a final decision is taken," Union minister, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, said in a tweet.

The ban impacted several gaming companies in India.

For instance, Nazara Technologies said in its May earning call that the share of media rights revenue declined from 39% in FY22 to 21% in FY23 due to the ban on popular games like BGMI.

“With BGMI now making a come-back, we believe it will be a big positive for esports viewership and companies such as Nazara in particular," said Jinesh Joshi, Research Analyst, Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt Ltd. Nazara is the parent company of Nodwin Gaming, which organized the biggest BGMI tournament in India before the ban.

“Krafton is a close partner of Nodwin/Nazara and we are delighted to see the return of BGMI in India. I am confident our teams will work together to create superlative experiences for the esports enthusiasts in our country," said Nitish Mittersain, Founder & CEO of Nazara Technologies.

Further, BGMI was also popular among the mobile game streaming community. Anirudh Pandita, founder of streaming platform Loco, said that its return will open fresh avenues for content creators, streamers, and esports professionals. “We can also expect a significant rise in user engagement, esports viewership, and revenue generation opportunities with this re-entry," added Pandita.

BGMI was taken down from Google Play Store and Apple App Store in July 2022 after an order by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under Section 69A of the IT Act, which allows the government to block access to any website or online content that it deems to be a threat to national security or public order.

BGMI was launched in July 2021 after Krafton severed ties with Chinese Tencent, which was distributing PUBG Mobile in India. The South Korean company has maintained that it understands the Indian government’s concerns and is cooperating with local authorities.

“Krafton Inc. is a responsible South Korean organization that abides by the law and has put in place several measures to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations," said Vibhor Kukreti, Head Government Affairs, Krafton, Inc. India. He added that Krafton “strongly encourages" its users to prioritize their well-being and follow responsible gaming practices.

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Abhijit Ahaskar
Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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Published: 20 May 2023, 12:03 AM IST
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