- Union minister Prakash Javadekar said PUBG is an example of violent games.
- He announced a Centre of Excellence will be set up this year.
- The government will offer courses through this centre on gaming.
In what could decide the future of PUBG and similar games in India, union minister Prakash Javadekar said Sunday that many mobile games are "violent, explicit, addictive, and tend to create a complex in the mind of children" and PUBG happens to be one of them. The statement comes across as a strong indication that the government is not going to favour the launch of PUBG Mobile India anytime soon. The relaunch of PUBG Mobile is a thing of high anticipation. The makers, PUBG Corporation are in a stalemate with the Indian government over it, so far leading to nothing but confusion. And now, the government is planning to set up a centre of excellence in gaming that would promote Indian cultural ethos, instead of violence.
Javadekar, the minister of information and broadcasting, said the gaming centre will teach courses on VFX, gaming, and animation so that Indian games promoting the cultural ethos can be developed. And these courses are likely to be available this year. The new "Centre of Excellence" in gaming will be set up by the government in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B). "We are at an advanced stage of preparation and this will come into effect as the new session begins in 2021," Javadekar said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the virtual exhibition of "Khel Khel Mein -- A Pan Maharashtra Toy/Game/ Project Design Competition."
Stating Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision, Javadekar said that the PM is "passionate about preserving and perpetuating Indian values, heritage, and cultural ethos." He added, according to a PTI report, that the prime minister is "putting in [the] immense effort so that the children and youth of our country are made aware of our rich culture and tradition." And Javadekar believes these values can be taught through modern technology. Calling PUBG an example of violent and explicit games, Javadekar said that "criticising" the game and other similar ones is "not the solution". "The solution is to create our own games and apps in line with Make in India for the world so that these are adopted world over for their basic values that are [an] integral part of our Indian ethos," said the minister.
While this announcement cannot be interpreted as the final decision on the ban of PUBG, it surely can be a hint that the mobile game that took India by the storm may never come back. The reason why it is not final is that the makers of the PUBG Mobile game, PUBG Corporation, are attempting to get the ban lifted repeatedly. Weeks after PUBG Mobile was banned last year, PUBG Corporation made a series of amends to the game to appease the government and people critical of the game. In addition to severing ties with China's Tencent Games, PUBG Corporation set up an Indian subsidiary with approval from the government in Bengaluru. The company teased the launch of PUBG Mobile India, which appears to be a version of the game curated (or rather censored) for the Indian players. Instead of blood spill, there is a green hit effect while players begin the game fully clothed in the game -- two changes PUBG Corporation thought were effective enough to convince the government.
But if violence is one of the reasons why PUBG Mobile was banned, there are several games allowed in India based on the same theme. As a matter of fact, FAU-G, which India's nCore Games launched on India's Republic Day, promotes violence in the game, although at very levels lower than those in full-fledged battle royale games such as PUBG Mobile or Call of Duty Mobile. The stance of the government does not come across as clear right now, but it seems PUBG is on its way to get the brush-off.