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PUBG Mobile to relaunch under “Battlegrounds India” name with pre-registrations on May 18

PUBG Mobile is coming back, nearly a year after being banned, as Battlegrounds India — pre-registrations for “Battlegrounds India,” as the game is now known, will start on mobile app marketplaces on May 18, the company behind the game announced on YouTube. The game is likely to look and feel a little different to avoid getting clubbed into the banned variant of the game. To recap, PUBG Mobile was banned in India because its publisher was Chinese, and India and China were in the middle of a border skirmish last year.

The publisher, Tencent, had its rights to the franchise in India revoked by Krafton, the South Korean company that owns the PUBG brand. In spite of this, the ban didn’t get lifted. So Krafton initially tried rebranding and censoring the game, christening it “PUBG Mobile India,” but that didn’t take; the game never came online. In that instance, Krafton had said that bloodshed would be replaced by green lights, in an attempt to assuage the non-China-based explanation some officials in the government were anonymously citing as an excuse to continue the ban.

Reintroducing the game was always a question of whether Apple or Google would be okay with it, as the government does not pre-censor apps. It appears now that Google and Apple are convinced that Battlegrounds India is fundamentally distinct enough from the Tencent-published PUBG Mobile. But we’ll only know for sure on Tuesday, when the app’s listing goes live on the Play Store and on the App Store. The developer, for its part, is being cautious — IGN India reported that Krafton has been asking influencers it is tied up with to not call the game “PUBG Mobile” to keep the company out of trouble.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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