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PUBG ban in India: From PUBG wala hai kya to ban, PUBG's past in India

Be it teens or adults, everyone got addicted to the PUBG fever in a short time. Here's taking a look at the journey of the game.

Pavni Jain | September 3, 2020 | Updated 08:55 IST

Highlights

  • PUBG is one of the most graphics intensive and visually appealing games available right now.
  • In an effort to bring PUBG to smartphones, Tencent launched PUBG Mobile in 2018.
  • PUBG Mobile has now been banned in India over security, surveillance and data concerns.

The mobile gaming community has been split by the news of PUBG Mobile being banned in India. On Wednesday, the Indian government issued a list of 118 Chinese apps that are now banned in the country. These apps include PUBG Mobile Nordic Map: Livik, PUBG Mobile LITE, VPN for TikTok, WeChat Work, AppLock and others -- although PUBG for PC remains not banned in the country because it's Korean.

The PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), was launched in the year 2017 and became instant hit. The battle royale game tosses random players in a set location from where they collect weapons, kill each other and win the match. The players are then rewarded with points, gold coins, chicken dinner and also get an access to unlock another level in the game.

"Ye PUBG wala hai kya?"

Be it students or working individuals, everyone just got addicted to the PUBG multiplayer online game in a short time. The game was so much in fashion, that it deserved a special mention by the Prime Minister of the country and that is what exactly happened. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked a mother about her son saying "Ye PUBG wala hai kya?" when she was letting him know about his poor academic performance. This happened during an event called 'Pariksha Pe Charcha' in January 2019.

PUBG is one of the high graphics games which is visually appealing for players. This is the reason why PUBG initially had millions of users, especially in India, since the beginning. To begin with, the game was meant to be played on consoles and PCs but later PUBG Mobile app was launched in 2018 to bring it to millions of smartphones across the country.

PUBG Mobile led to murders, suicide and depression

In an effort to bring PUBG to smartphones, the game's parent firm, PUBG Corp joined hands with Chinese developer, Tencent, to launch PUBG Mobile. The PUBG Mobile app made it easy for teens to access the game. However, because of this easy access and the game's addictive nature, what followed was a little troubling. There were several cases of murders, suicide, and other unfortunate incidents that were recorded from various parts of India which were directly or indirectly liked to the PUBG addiction.

For example, in January 2019, a fitness trainer from Jammu was admitted to the hospital after he was addicted to PUBG Mobile. The trainer apparently injured himself due to immense addiction. In September 2019, Hindustan Times reported that a Karnataka-based 25-year-old killed his father for stopping him from playing PUBG. Another report from December 2019, courtesy of Business Today, noted that a 20-year-old drank chemical instead of water while playing the PUBG game. The boy died even before he could be attended to by the doctors.

Thus, many at times, the PUBG online game faced a potential ban from the state governments in India. In fact, in March 2019, PUBG Mobile was banned in some cities including Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara and Bhavnagar. However, the ban was lifted within a few weeks, even as police arrested around 21 people in total for playing the game during the ban.

In January 2020, as per a PTI report, the Union government also directed to check the contents of PUBG Mobile and even ban the online game if required. The court's decision came from a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an 11-year-old kid in Mumbai seeking a ban on PUBG Mobile. Ahad Nizam, who filed the PIL through his mother, said "PUBG Mobile promotes violence, murder, aggression, loot, gaming addiction, and cyber-bullying."

Another PIL, earlier this year, was filed against the PUBG game by a lawyer HC Arora in the Punjab and Haryana High Court calling the game as addictive as a drug. "School going children who are losing interest in studies have become addicted to the game. The parents of such children are helpless. In case they insist the children to stop playing it, they become aggressive and go into depression," Arora said in his PIL.

Role of PUBG Mobile in coronavirus pandemic lockdown

While a lot of industries have been badly affected because of COVID-19 pandemic, the video-game industry has done quite well. When people languished in lockdown, they opted for ways to shoo away their boredom. That's when many of them tried playing online games and PUBG being so popular pulled in more gamers. Even the Mumbai Police used a PUBG reference on Twitter to impart message on staying at home and practice social distancing.

Despite the PILs, complaints and injuries caused by the online game, the number of PUBG Mobile players did grow in the times of coronavirus pandemic lockdown. But it appears there are troubles ahead for PUBG Mobile as the app has now been banned by the Indian government over security, surveillance and data concerns.

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