The developer of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has cut ties with Tencent (TCEHY) in India in a bid to skirt a government ban on Chinese mobile apps in one of the video game’s most lucrative markets.
PUBG Corporation said in a statement on Tuesday that Tencent Games in India will no longer be authorized to publish the mobile version of its PUBG franchise. The South Korean gaming company said it will take on all publishing responsibilities itself within the country, where PUBG was the biggest grossing mobile game last month.
The decision comes after the Indian government said last week that it would block 118 apps in the country, which it claimed threatened national security. The list included two PUBG mobile apps, as well as Chinese search giant Baidu (BIDU) and Alipay, the mobile payment app from Ant Group, the financial affiliate of Jack Ma’s Alibaba (BABA).
“PUBG Corporation fully understands and respects the measures taken by the government as the privacy and security of player data is a top priority for the company,” it said in a statement. “It hopes to work hand-in-hand with the Indian government to find a solution that will allow gamers to once again drop into the battlegrounds while being fully compliant with Indian laws and regulations.”
PUBG was the top mobile game by monthly active users in India last year, according to analytics firm AppAnnie. In the first half of this year, it was downloaded more than 54 million times, analytics firm Sensor Tower told CNN Business. Last month, it generated $2.2 million in revenue, earning the most among India’s top 20 mobile games.
The news will come as a blow to Tencent (TCEHY), which has already had its popular messaging app WeChat banned in India. It is also contending with a possible WeChat ban in the United States. Tencent (TCEHY) did not immediately respond to a request for comment on PUBG’s announcement.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has now banned nearly 200 mobile apps originating from China, according to Gateway House, a foreign policy think tank in Mumbai. In June it banned the short-form video app TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance.
The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether PUBG’s actions will give Indian fans access to the mobile version of the game again.
— Sherisse Pham, Julia Horowitz and Swati Gupta contributed reporting.