PUBG Mobile, the sleeper hit title banned in India two months ago due to cybersecurity concerns, plans to return to the world's second largest internet market, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
The South Korean company has been working with global cloud service providers in the past few weeks to store Indian user data in the country to address New Delhi's concerns about the whereabouts and security of user data, one of the sources said.
The gaming giant has privately informed some high profile streamers in the country that it expects to resume service in India before the end of this year, the other source said. Both sources asked for anonymity as they are not authorized to speak to the press. PUBG Corporation did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
The company could make an announcement about its future plans for India as early as this week. There are also plans to run a marketing campaign in the country during the Diwali festival next week, one of the sources said.
In the past few weeks, PUBG has also been working with a number of local firms, including SoftBank-backed Paytm and telecommunications giant Airtel, to see if they are interested in releasing the popular mobile game in the country, an industry manager said. A Paytm spokesman declined to comment.
Chinese giant Tencent first released PUBG mobile apps in India. After New Delhi banned PUBG Mobile, the game company cut publishing relations with Tencent in the country. Prior to the ban, PUBG Mobile's content was hosted on the Tencent Cloud.
With more than 50 million monthly active users in India, PUBG Mobile was by far the most popular mobile game in the country before it was banned. According to Rishi Alwani, longtime Indian games market analyst and editor of The Mako news agency, this has helped build a whole ecosystem of esports organizations for teams and even a home industry of streamers who have made the most of their viewers' sport-friendly gameplay at Reactor.
However, the return of PUBG Mobile could make matters more difficult for several industry players, including some who are currently developing similar games to capitalize on their absence and discussions with venture capital firms about ongoing rounds of funding.
It would also suggest that more than 200 other Chinese apps that India has banned in the past few months could hope to address New Delhi's concerns by making some changes to the place where they store their user data. (This was also the understanding between TikTok and Reliance when they took investment opportunities earlier this year.)