PUBG Mobile plans India return with more clothes, less blood

PUBG is one of the most popular mobile-based games in India. Ajay Kumar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two months after it was banned in India due to its links to China's Tencent, a modified version of the PUBG mobile game is set to be launched in the country. The PUBG Corporation announced on Thursday it plans to launch a new PUBG Mobile game in India, which at the time of its ban, was India's top downloaded title, and its highest grossing video game with around 50 million users.

This game, according to the announcement, will have certain elements "customized for Indian gamers." Characters would start out completely clothed (the old version of PUBG mobile saw players starting out in basic white underwear, picking up clothes and weapons as they progressed in their game). The game will also be re-framed as taking place in a "virtual simulation training ground" and not in real life. As such, green hit effects will be replacing blood spatter. There will also be limits on how long players can use the game "to promote healthy gameplay habits for younger players," the company said in its statement that was first made available to high profile streamers and content creators.

Interestingly, these changes would be nearly identical to the changes made in the Chinese version of the mobile game developed by Tencent. The company had pulled out PUBG mobile from the Chinese market in September 2019 after it failed to secure a government license to monetize the game. The game was replaced with an anti-terrorist themed game named "Game for Peace". The game bypassed the chaotic battle royale environment for a decidedly less threatening military training simulation with the China Air Force. The game only allows users of ages 16 and older and limits play time for those under 18 to two hours. Unlike PUBG Mobile, Game for Peace features no blood, and opponents do not "die" when they are defeated; rather, they wave goodbye before disappearing into thin air. It remains to be seen if the same farewell is retained in the redeveloped Indian version of PUBG.

One of the primary reasons given by the Indian government for the ban on PUBG mobile was its links to China. The Centre had then said that it received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.

In an effort to follow the the revised rules - PUBG Corporation, based in South Korea, announced they were cutting ties with Tencent - the developer of the mobile version of the game. They also announced that they would be localizing development and data storage for PUBG mobile. Earlier this month it was also announced that PUBG Mobile would be hosted on Microsoft's Azure cloud. While it remains to be seen whether the Indian government would approve the latest version of the game, and indeed the official announcement of its release date is yet unknown, PUBG Corporation further announced that it planned on investing some 100 million dollars into the game in India.