Despite ban, PUBG Mobile makes up over half of India's total esports price pool

PUBG Mobile has been the topic of controversy for a while in India now. The game was banned  back in September 2020 for apparently being, "engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order.”

Even though MEITY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) banned PUBG Mobile alongside 118 apps on September 2, PUBG Mobile tournaments still managed to make up 53 percent of India’s esports prize pool for 2020. 

According to a detailed report (behind paywall) by AFK Gaming, PUBG Mobile held two official tournaments in India in 2019 that included the PUBG Mobile Spring Split and Fall Split. These two tournaments combine had a prize pool of $350,000 (approximately Rs 2,54,17,210).

While in 2020 only one of these tournaments took place which was the Spring Split, and it had a prize pool of $200,000 (approximately Rs 1,45,23,640). Had it not been for the ban the total prize pool could have gone up to $691,651 (approximately 5,02,23,027).

The report also mentions that with the ban on PUBG Mobile games like Call of Duty Mobile and Garena Free Fire saw a resurgence. PC games like Valorant and Rainbow Six Siege have also become more popular in terms of esports options.

While the game is still not available in India, apparently it still has a player base in the millions. According to a TechCrunch report, analytics firm App Annie says PUBG Mobile’s monthly active users from India is still over 15 million.

Krafton Corporation that owns the PUBG branding did away with Tencent as the distributor in India and has since been trying to get the game unbanned, but an RTI filed by Medianama  got the following response from MEITY.

“MEITY does not grant permission for starting of any websites / mobile Apps / service. Accordingly, MEITY has not granted permission to PUBG / PUBG mobile India.” Hence it seems like it's still a long way to unbanning the game in India, and it may even be gone permanently.

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