For tens of millions of Indian gamers, Tencent’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile videogame was a welcome distraction from the coronavirus pandemic.
Then the Indian government said it was pulling the plug.
“When everything was under lockdown, PUBG’s interactive features gave me a semblance of real-world social interaction. It was a stress-buster for me,” said Mustafa Scentwala, 26, who lives in India’s financial hub, Mumbai, and played PUBG Mobile with nine friends for hours each day.
PUBG Mobile, part of the “battle royale” genre in which a group of players fight one another until only a single combatant is left alive, became a casualty of geopolitics this week when the Indian government said it was banning it, along with over a hundred other Chinese apps, as tensions with Beijing escalated.
India’s technology ministry said the apps were a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.
The ban is the latest move against Chinese companies in India amid a months-long standoff over a disputed border but the timing and the target were particularly tough for young people. They have been using the game to stay in touch with friends while schools and colleges are shut to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
Should the government explain why Chinese apps were banned? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.