PUBG, Airtel Reportedly In Talks To Bring PUBG Mobile Back In India

PUBG Corporation is in early talks with telecom company Airtel to distribute PUBG Mobile in India, while talks with Reliance concerning a distribution deal related to its Jio platform have slowed, according to a report in Entrackr

“PUBG is in early conversation with Airtel for handing over distribution rights to the telecom giant. This desperation shows that PUBG has been trying hard to get back into the Indian market,” a source told the publication on the condition of anonymity. 

“The gaming platform is also busy in raising a lean team in India. It has been interviewing candidates with experience of under 4 to 6 years,” the source added.

The source also said that talks with Reliance to distribute the game in india through its Jio platform had slowed. In September a source within the Indian government confirmed that talks between PUBG Corp. and Reliance were in fact happening. That same source also indicated that the government had no plans to lift the ban on the game anytime soon, adding that there had been complaints about the game being “too violent.”

PUBG Mobile Ban in India

Indian Government banned PUBG Mobile on Sept. 2 , along with 117 other mobile phone apps that have ties to Chinese developers or publishers. At the time the popular mobile battle royale game was being published in India by Tencent Games. The ban was precipitated by border tensions between India and China.

PUBG Mobile is one of the most popular games in India, with over five crore people having downloaded the game. That’s almost three out of every 10 Indians. Unlike video games on your computer or game console, PUBG Mobile enjoys a broad following in India because it will run smoothly on almost any phone.

If you have a phone under Rs. 10,000, you won’t be able to run Fortnite — another game in the same genre that is hugely popular in the US. But PUBG will run. Thanks to crores of Indians who don’t have access to high-end laptops, game consoles, or iPhones, PUBG Mobile became the national pastime. Until it wasn’t.

The impact of this ban will mostly be felt by young Indians, who belong to small towns and have big dreams. Young pro PUBG players earning between Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 1,30,000 as salary was not uncommon.

This was possible because Tencent, the Chinese company that developed and distributed the game for the Korean PUBG Corporation, spent a lot of money in India, sponsoring tournaments, and independent streamers, and with the ban, an entire economy dependent on PUBG is being dismantled. While gamers will find other titles to keep themselves entertained, will the replacement be as accessible to people from all over India, or will gaming again retreat into a more privileged space?

WhatsOnMobile has reached out to PUBG Corp. and Airtel for comment and will update this story should more information become available.