The mobile market battleground that is the Asian gaming industry is not without its share of government intervention. Whether that’s China attempting to combat ‘game addiction’ and stifling attempts to approve new games, or as we’ve recently seen with India, banning games such as PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire. However, publisher Krafton’s solution to create a bespoke app, BGMI (BattleGrounds Mobile India) for the Indian market didn’t prevent the game from once more being delisted on request from the Indian government.
Now Krafton India’s Head of Corporate Development, Anuj Tandon, has exited the company in what some outlets such as IGN India are speculating is a precursor to even more serious complications for the developer in India. Since BGMI was banned, efforts have been underway from Krafton to have the ban repealed however this and other resignations make that look less and less likely. “Tandon's exit marks the second major Krafton India executive to leave the studio this year, following Aneesh Aravind, Krafton India's Head of Publishing's departure in February,” according to IGN India.
A not-so-unknown Battleground
As reported by major news outlets earlier in the year, BGMI’s removal from the Google and Apple mobile stores is the extension of greater political tensions between India and China, the latter being where developer Tencent games is based. BBC news quoted tech analyst Prasanto K Roy as saying, "The government had banned these apps citing security concerns, data of Indian citizens going out etc, but it was essentially meant to put pressure on China over the border conflict," in relation to PUBG’s initial ban.
BGMI was created to adhere to stricter policies around information used by the game, without significant changes being made to the app itself. As for what Krafton could theoretically do to lift the ban, should they continue to push for it’s reinstatement, it could involve implementing further data protection policies. But it’s likely that as long as developer Tencent retains a strong stake (13.36% according to the BBC) in the company, there’s likely little Krafton can do to extricate itself from the ongoing legislative battle.
As noted in the BBC article, “Under intense government scrutiny, Mr Roy says, apps that are Chinese-owned or have significant Chinese investment will continue to find it extremely difficult to operate in India.”