PUBG announces return to India: New game, $100 million investment
PUBG Mobile will make its return to India in a new avatar, parent company PUBG Corporation said on Thursday. TechCrunch reported last week that the South Korean gaming firm was plotting its return to the world’s second largest internet market two months after its marquee title was banned by the country.
Additionally, the company said it plans to make investment worth $100 million in India, one of the largest markets of PUBG Mobile, to cultivate the local video game, esports, entertainment, and IT industries ecosystems. “Thanks to overwhelming community enthusiasm for PUBG esports in India, the company also plans to make investments by hosting India-exclusive esports events, which will feature the biggest tournaments, the largest prize pools, and the best tournament productions,” it said in a statement, adding that it also plans to hire over 100 employees in the country.
The company did not share exactly when the new game, which it says has been specially created for India, would release.
New Delhi has banned over 200 apps with links to China — including PUBG Mobile and TikTok — in recent months over cybersecurity concerns. To allay concerns of the Indian government, PUBG Mobile has cut ties with Chinese internet giant, Tencent, which is its publisher in many markets, in India. The company last week announced that it had inked a global deal with Microsoft to move all PUBG Mobile data — as well as data from its other properties — to Azure.
In a statement on Thursday, PUBG Corporation said, “privacy and security of Indian player data being a top priority for PUBG Corporation, the company will conduct regular audits and verifications on the storage systems holding Indian users’ personally identifiable information to reinforce security and ensure that their data is safely managed.”
Prior to the ban in early September, PUBG Mobile had amassed over 50 million monthly active users in India, more than any other mobile game in the country. It helped establish an entire ecosystem of esports organisations and even a cottage industry of streamers that made the most of its spectator sport-friendly gameplay, said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and publisher of news outlet The Mako Reactor.
PUBG Corporation’s move today could also set a precedence for other impacted apps to chart their returns to the country. One thing that remains unclear for now is whether the Indian government has approved PUBG Corporation’s move.