Earlier in the week, Krafton announced Battlegrounds Mobile India for Android had hit 20 million pre-registrations. Not too shabby when you consider that pre-registrations for the game on Google Play began on May 18. While the Tencent-funded company is yet to reveal at Battlegrounds Mobile India release date, that hasn’t stopped it from admitting that Battlegrounds Mobile India is essentially PUBG Mobile. For reference, PUBG Mobile was banned in India last year by the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology to “ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace” in the face of mounting geopolitical tensions with China. However Krafton CEO CH Kim’s recent statement to the media suggests that Battlegrounds Mobile India is the same game.
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our Indian fans for their overwhelming response to the Battlegrounds IP first developed by me and my team in 2017,” he said. “The Battlegrounds IP received love and acclaim from players worldwide, and Krafton will continue to build on the IP. That effort includes bringing amazing content to Battlegrounds Mobile India and providing an incomparable battle royale experience to our players.”
How does this mean that Battlegrounds Mobile India is PUBG Mobile? The dead giveaway is in the year mentioned. 2017 saw one game from Krafton (then known as Bluehole) release on PC called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG for short. And the rest of Kim’s quote essentially suggests that the company plans to build on that experience.
Why does this matter? Well, for one this is as close as to what we’d get as a tacit admission of truth from Krafton. Despite its operations in other markets being remarkably transparent, the company says little of its India plans, outside of carefully curated statements like Kim’s or leaking precious bits of information to influencers in order to keep its community interested in what to expect. Incidentally, Kim’s mention of 2017 and Battlegrounds Mobile India’s origins flies in the face of other Krafton India executives attempts at painting this as a “new” game.
— Anuj Tandon (@Anuj_Tandon) May 7, 2021
More importantly, this sly nod from Krafton is indicative that politicians requesting a ban on Battlegrounds Mobile India aren’t entirely wrong either. Rather, it serves as yet another indicator that all isn’t exactly what it seems. With Krafton India fearful of anyone mentioning PUBG Mobile but using all sorts of iconography and maps related to it and keeping the same package name, Kim’s statement does little to allay any concerns.
It is also unknown if Krafton’s ongoing silence on Battlegrounds Mobile India racism — which it is yet to condemn — could impact this or if Google or Apple would deny the game a release. Sources tell IGN India that both companies are reluctant to approve a release of Battlegrounds Mobile India following the controversies that have arisen after its reveal.
Considering Krafton is more than happy to play by Google’s rules implies that there won’t be much in the way of stalling any potential Battlegrounds Mobile India launch, which is heavily rumoured for June 18.
IGN India reached out to Apple and Google for comment nearly a month ago regarding the approval of Battlegrounds Mobile India and will update this story if we hear from either company.
Krafton has remained silent despite multiple requests for comments from IGN India directed at India boss Aneesh Aravind as well as the office of the CEO CH Kim.