Krafton’s popular battle royale game Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) is making a comeback to India nearly 10 months after it was suspended from Google Play and Apple App Store following a government order.
With this, BGMI will become the first app to make a comeback among the 300-odd banned by the government in the past couple of years.
Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in a tweet on May 19 that this is a three-month trial approval of BGMI after the game complied with issues of server locations and data security among others.
“We will keep a close watch on other issues of User harm, Addiction etc in next 3 months before a final decision is taken,” he said.
“We are highly grateful to the Indian authorities for allowing us to resume operations of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI). We would like to extend our gratitude to our Indian gaming community for their support and patience over the past few months,” Sean Hyunil Sohn, CEO, Krafton Inc India, said in a statement on May 19.
The app will soon be available for download on Android and iOS through their respective app stores.
“Krafton is a responsible South Korean organisation that abides by the law and has put in place several measures to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations,” said Vibhor Kukreti, head of government affairs, Krafton Inc. India in a statement.
“We work tirelessly to ensure that India takes the lead in this domain by embracing innovative practices in collaboration with the gaming ecosystem to support, sustain and promote its growth” he said.
Kukreti also urged players to “prioritise their well-being and follow responsible gaming practices.”
The move is expected to provide a big relief to the South Korean gaming giant which has invested over $100 million in India’s startup ecosystem over the past couple of years.
Among its investments include Nazara-owned Nodwin Gaming, JetSynthesys-owned mobile game development studio Nautilus Mobile, game streaming platform Loco, Indian language storytelling platform Pratilipi, audio content platform Kuku FM and influencer marketing platform One Impression.
BGMI India launch
Krafton launched BGMI in July 2021, following the the suspension of their flagship title PUBG Mobile in September 2020. The company maintains that both games are different with BGMI being exclusively available in India.
In September 2020, Krafton severed ties with its publishing partner Tencent and took over all publishing responsibilities within the country. It also set up a subsidiary in India in November 2020.
“Our approach has always been India-first. We believe in investing in the Indian gaming industry and contributing to building a vibrant ecosystem that fosters growth and innovation. To achieve our mission, we aim to augment technology developments in India by collaborating with local developers and promoting the use of cutting-edge technologies,” Sohn said.
“We also recognize the importance of providing skilling and employment opportunities for Indian talent, which can help them nurture their skillset and thrive in the industry,” he added.
In July 2022, Krafton claimed that BGMI surpassed 100 million users in India within a year of the game’s launch. BGMI was one of the biggest revenue-generating Android apps in the country until its suspension.
It clocked about $33 million in-app spend from July 2021 to July 2022, according to the estimates app intelligence firm Sensor Tower shared with Moneycontrol. However, some industry executives say the revenue number is significantly conservative and estimate the app’s annual revenue to be around $100 million.
The move will also boost India’s fast-growing esports industry, which was severely impacted by the app’s suspension last year.
Last year, Krafton partnered with Nodwin to broadcast an esports tournament on Disney Star’s sports channels, making it the first such tournament to be broadcast on mainstream television. Krafton claimed the tournament attracted a total 24 million concurrent viewers and a total of 200 million viewers.
“Krafton is a close partner of Nodwin/Nazara and we are delighted to see the return of BGMI in India. I am confident our teams will work together to create superlative experiences for the esports enthusiasts in our country,” said Nazara Technologies founder Nitish Mittersain.