Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), the India-specific variant of popular esports title PUBG: Mobile, has been removed from the PlayStore and Appstore in India.
The game’s removal is the latest in the saga between game developer KRAFTON and India’s government, allegedly due to the developer’s ties with Chinese company Tencent. In 2020, PUBG Mobile was banned by the county’s government, leading to the release of its Indian version in 2021.
Following the game’s removal, KRAFTON told Indian media: “We are clarifying how BGMI was removed from Google Play Store and the Appstore and will let you know once we get specific information.”
The removal of BGMI could have huge ramifications for India’s esports ecosystem, particularly if the title is not reinstated. However, those who have the game downloaded can currently still play the title.
Whilst the Indian variant hasn’t secured the same rapid success as PUBG: Mobile, the title is still one of the country’s most popular esports titles. Most recently, Battlegrounds Mobile India Pro Series Season 1 recorded a peak viewership of 304,700, according to Esports Charts.
Additionally, BGMI hasn’t been completely isolated from the larger PUBG: Mobile esports ecosystem. Team Soul have been invited to the upcoming PUBG Mobile World Invitational 2022 following its BGMI Pro Series victory.
Several stakeholders within the Indian esports scene told Esports Insider of the consequences of the removal. Rohit Jagasia, Founder & CEO of Indian esports organisation Revenant Esports, said: “The BGMI [removal] will definitely be a setback for all major stakeholders like tournament organisations, esports teams, coaches, support staff and most importantly the athletes.
“However, at Revenant Esports we will still be supporting our BGMI Athletes and make sure they use our training facility to create content and try their hand at different games.”
Meanwhile, Lokesh Suji, Director of the Esports Federation of India and VP of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF), stressed that it is too early to speculate on the removal due to the fact that no official statement has been made by the government yet. Nevertheless, he did note that the game’s removal highlights India’s reliance on one title.
He said: “India is paving its path to becoming a multi-sport nation where every sport is getting the right visibility, audience and investment to grow. We have to reflect the same in esports where we need to start giving exposure to multiple esports titles and not limited to one.
“With so much attention on every front including the government, It’s also high time our Indian video game developers speed up the process to launch world-class esports video game titles.”
Finally, Parth Chadha, Co-Founder and CEO of Indian fan engagement startup STAN, commented: “The recent removal of BGMI app from PlayStore and Apple AppStore has caused a lot of uncertainty and upheaval amongst the BGMI-lovers’ community in India — which is at the moment growing bigger with every passing day. This move, if it turns out to be a permanent one, affects the BGMI athletes in our country big time.”
It is not yet clear why the game has been removed or whether the removal will be permanent.