It’s no surprise that Krafton wants to bring PUBG Mobile back to India. From the company’s presence at local industry events, to hiring employees to liaise with government officials, and even donating to PM Cares Fund (which seems to be the rite of passage for many a corporation looking to curry-favour the nation despite the lack of transparency surrounding it), the South Korea-based company is trying its best to be in the country’s good graces.
However its charm offensive has missed one crucial group: Indian esports teams.
In the past few months, we’ve had Fnatic shelve its India PUBG Mobile operations while the likes of TSM Entity and Galaxy Racer are exploring options to continue to play PUBG Mobile, albeit from countries like the UAE.
It’s interesting that these two organisations have taken these steps to ensure they remain competitive in PUBG Mobile. This also indicates is that brain drain, which has hit Indian talent in several sectors may be prevalent in esports as well.
At the moment it’s an open secret in the Indian esports industry that, despite Krafton hiring most of Tencent’s staff, the company has been tight-lipped on its plans.
No communication, let alone reassurances, have been given to esports teams in the country, sources tell IGN India. This has led to many to move onto other games like Valorant or Free Fire or simply exit the business altogether.
After all, what’s the point of trying to get PUBG Mobile unbanned when Krafton hasn’t been willing to support the esports business that’s been built on the back of it?
Even more perplexing, Krafton prefers to pass messages onto its influencers and YouTubers — exerting a degree of control it wouldn’t normally have if it were to be in direct contact with the gaming community or the media at large. At the same time it gives the company plausible deniability all while having Indians think that it can do no wrong.
Perhaps, for Krafton, having PUBG Mobile return isn’t as important as ensuring that its shareholders are confident that it will, as that alone would make the company more valuable on paper with its upcoming IPO. Incidentally, China’s Tencent is Krafton’s second largest shareholder with a 15.5 percent stake through an investment company.
So while Krafton may be making all the right moves: donating to PM Cares, talking up the country’s potential, and even investing in esports (and presenting such investments in the shadiest way possible), it hasn’t been able to do the bare minimum by its fans, players and the industry at large. It’s not a net positive when teams decide to shut down their India operations or consider moving out of the country.