Authorities in India have blocked Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), a popular battle-royale format game from South Korean company Krafton Inc using a law it invoked in 2020 to block Chinese apps in the country citing national security concerns.
BMGI, which had over 100 million users in India, was removed from Alphabet Inc’s Google Play Store and Apple Inc’s app store on Thursday evening in India, reported Reuters.
In 2020, the Indian government had banned another popular Krafton game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and more than 100 other mobile apps of Chinese origins, following a months-long border standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbours over a contested border.
While announcing the ban, the Indian government’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had at that time claimed that these apps were “prejudicial to [the] sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
Since then, the ban has been expanded to include more than 300 apps, including popular gaming app ‘Free Fire’, owned by Singapore’s technology group Sea Ltd.
According to Krafton’s regulatory filing, Tencent held a 13.5 per cent stake in Krafton as of March-end through an investment vehicle.
In May, Krafton had said that India accounted for a high single-digit percentage of its revenue in the first quarter of the year.
It has insisted that PUBG and BGMI were different games.
Earlier this week, Krafton’s India CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn told news portal TechCrunch that BGMI complies with all government guidelines.
“The government does not intervene in which apps can function and which cannot. They intervene in digital security and privacy concerns, and BGMI complies with all guidelines. MeitY [Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology] has also noted that PUBG and BGMI are different games,” he had said.
However, a spokesperson for Google said the app had been blocked following a directive from India’s IT ministry.
“On receipt of the order, following the established process, we have notified the affected developer and have blocked access to the app that remained available on the Play Store in India,” Outlook reported, citing the statement.
Apple has not yet issued a statement.
A Krafton spokesperson in Seoul said that discussions were underway with relevant authorities to figure out the exact situation.
“We are clarifying how BGMI was removed from Google Play store and the App store and will let you know once we get specific information,” it said in a statement.
The Indian government has also not yet issued a statement on the ban.
Krafton shares slumped more than 9 per cent after the development on Friday, later paring losses to trade down 4.5 per cent as of the afternoon in Seoul.