PUBG Mobile app removed, India servers now shut down: The full story explained in 5 points
India Today Tech October 31, 2020
It has been close two months since PUBG Mobile was banned in India. The Indian government, after the country's tussle with China on the border, banned a number of Chinese apps in the country. PUBG Mobile was one of them. It was banned on September 2. Now, its India servers have gone offline. They are no longer going to be available, says Tencent, the Chinese company that was managing the game in India.
So, what's going on with PUBG Mobile and India? Here is a quick summary, so far:
-- As noted by Tencent on October 29 in a Facebook post as well as a forum announcement, the company is ceasing operations of PUBG Mobile India servers and associated services.
-- What this means in normal words is that Tencent was running game servers for Indian users. While the PUBG Mobile app had been removed from the Google Play Store and the iPhone App Store, people who had the PUBG Mobile installed on their phones could still play the game if they could get past ISP restrictions. So, some people were side-loading the game updates on their phones, or even using the PUBG Mobile APK to install the game on Android phones. Then, depending on ISP blocking they were either using a proxy or VPN to get past it, or in some cases there was no ISP ban on connecting to PUBG servers from India.
What has happened now is that these servers are no longer going to be available to PUBG Mobile players from India. Tencent on October 29 announced that it is switching off these India-specific PUBG servers.
PUBG Mobile page for India noted on its Facebook page, "Dear Fans, To comply with the interim order of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology dated September 2, 2020, Tencent Games will terminate all service and access for users in India to PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG MOBILE Lite (together, "PUBG Mobile") on October 30, 2020. The rights to publish PUBG MOBILE in India will be returned to the owner of the PUBG intellectual property."
-- Does this mean there is no way for Indian users to play PUBG Mobile? Kind of. But never say never. What this means is that Indian users may have to reinstall the game, by sideloading the APK, create separate profiles and then connect to global servers to play PUBG. This means they may end up losing all the progress they have made in the game so far.
Also, there is a reason why game companies local servers. It allows for better latency, and better-tuned performance. If Indian users join global servers, they may find the latency higher and game less fun. Although, all of this depends on Tencent, or any other company managing the servers. If they want, they may tune servers differently. Though, if they facilitate the gameplay for Indian users, the Indian government may consider that violation of its order and intent, which is precisely the reason why Tencent is shutting down the Indian servers of PUBG Mobile. It's not that technologically it cannot defy the Indian ban on PUBG Mobile. It just doesn't want to.
-- So just to recap: PUBG Mobile is no longer available in India through the app stores. It was banned on September 2. Internet service providers were earlier told to deny connection requests to know PUBG Mobile servers, though it was difficult to implement. And now Tencent has shut down or at least it has publicly said so -- PUBG Mobile servers that catered to Indian players.
-- What does this mean as far PUBG Mobile and India is concerned? Can PUBG Mobile come back to India? In the statement that Tencent gave on October 29, it also said "The rights to publish PUBG MOBILE in India will be returned to the owner of the PUBG intellectual property." This is something we are hearing again and again. The PUBG Mobile is actually owned by a Korean company, which also runs PUBG on computers. This is the reason why PUBG on computers is still available in India.
The Tencent statement shows that there is some development in regards to ownership of PUBG Mobile in India. If the Korean company takes the full charge of development and distribution of PUBG Mobile in India, it is possible that the game may come back. However, this will take time. So, it could be several weeks, or even months, before we see the PUBG Mobile return back to India.