BGMI Returns: Inside the Saga of PUBG Mobile’s Comeback in India


In July 2022, the Indian government made a bold move and blocked access to the immensely popular battle royale game BGMI (Battlegrounds Mobile India) over data privacy concerns.

After nearly a year of negotiations between developer Krafton and the Indian government, BGMI finally made its triumphant return in May 2023.

However, questions persist regarding the specific privacy concerns that troubled the government in the first place and what factors led to the reintroduction of this game. Let’s find out the answers.

BGMI’s Sudden Ban

For those who don’t know, BGMI is the India-specific version of Krafton’s Global PUBG Mobile.

At the time of its removal, BGMI was India’s top mobile esports, with over 100 million registered users and solid monthly user engagement.

The sudden ban shocked gamers and esports organizations who had come to depend on BGMI tournaments and streaming.

However, This was not the first time it happened.

It was previously banned, along with over 100 apps including TikTok, in 2020 due to the India-China border tensions.

BGMI, with its servers based in India, sought to adhere to data protection regulations to make a comeback. However, regulators continued to harbor concerns.

Krafton’s Efforts for Return

However, rather than protest publicly, Krafton and its India CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn worked behind the scenes to address the government’s issues.

This included:

  • Moving BGMI data servers away from servers with Chinese connections
  • Committing further investments in India
  • Implementing time limits and other safeguards for players

Krafton avoided provoking regulators and instead, Sohn concentrated on positive engagement, aiming to reinstate BGMI under Krafton’s complete authority.

BGMI Returns

On May 29th, 2023, BGMI finally resumed operations after meeting conditions set by the government.

Officials felt comfortable lifting the ban after observing Krafton’s changes and commitments over a 3-month evaluation period.

Exactly what modifications were made remains unclear but there are several key factors that lead to this change of heart.

The primary reason, we believe, is the realignment of data storage away from Chinese servers.

As the Chinese connection was the primary concern, Krafton probably listed out the servers for India that have no or minimal connections with Chinese servers.

The second reason we think of, which is now officially declared also, is the commitment to invest in Indian gaming development companies.

Immediately after the return, they announced to invest a whopping $150 million into Indian gaming startups.

This is done through their Incubation program, KIGI, where they invite Indian developers to participate for not only funding but also for mentorship and networking opportunities.

BGMI Ecosystem Springs Back to Life

The relaunch of BGMI has revitalized the gaming and esports landscape in India.

Leading tournament organizers like Skyesports, Upthrust Esports, Tesseract Esports, and Villager Esports, come out from their dormancy and immediately jump to the scene with new events and formats.

Famous streamers have also resumed streaming BGMI, leading to a spike in viewership.

As of July 2023, BGMI reached 30 million monthly active users, surpassing its pre-ban numbers.

Players are optimistic that regulators will continue to approve of the game’s safety measures and commitment to prioritizing India.

BGMI Saga Highlights India’s Data Concerns

The BGMI saga underscores India’s strict data compliance expectations.

To operate in this crucial market, gaming firms must localize data infrastructure and satisfy local privacy concerns.

Krafton’s quiet cooperation with the government provided a blueprint for restoring access to a banned mobile game.

The company played a long game, focusing on engagement over public outcry.

One year after its disappearance, BGMI has returned home. But only through aligning with India’s data protection priorities.

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