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PUBG Mobile players and streamers mourn India’s ban on the Tencent game

PUBG Mobile and related apps accumulated more than 175 million lifetime downloads in India, its largest market by install numbers.

PUBG Mobile has been a key revenue engine of Tencent's gaming business Source: Anadolu Agency

When India banned TikTok in June, some PUBG Mobile players experienced a sense of schadenfreude. The blockbuster smartphone game, despite being published by Chinese tech titan Tencent, was spared. But gamers have now run out of luck.

On Wednesday, India issued a sweeping ban on PUBG Mobile, PUBG Mobile Lite, and 116 ­additional apps. The decision riled gamers and streamers who rushed to the internet to discuss a future without their favorite title.

“We don’t know what will ­happen next,” said Naman ­Mathur, better known by his ­online handle MortaL, in a video on Wednesday night. Since 2018, the YouTuber, 24, has been streaming himself ­playing PUBG Mobile, ­attracting more than a million views on average for each video. He recently ­celebrated a new milestone: His YouTube channel hit 6 million subscribers last month.

“It’s not about PUBG Mobile here. It’s about everything. It’s about how we all stay together,” he said, adding he still supported the government ban because of the “safety of the country.”

In a statement, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that the ban was ­intended to protect the safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace, citing complaints from various sources about the misuse of some mobile apps. The restrictions follow rising tensions between India and China after a deadly border clash in May.

Tencent declined to comment yesterday.

Some Indian commenters lashed out at Prime Minister ­Narendra Modi, suggesting his popularity was taking a hit among young citizens for banning the game. But many others shared memes of parents cheering the decision and students who said they could finally focus on ­schoolwork.

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This is not the first time PUBG Mobile, a battle royale shooting game, has run into trouble in ­India. Last year, some cities briefly banned the app purportedly to protect children from violence and game addiction.

The police were reportedly told to stop people caught playing the game on the streets.

The game, along with the ­Chinese version, Game for Peace, had about 175 million lifetime ­installs in India as of early July, ­research firm Sensor Tower said.

This article was originally published by Abacus News.