Krafton's Battlegrounds Mobile India had 130 million downloads before it was banned by the government over security concerns in July 2022.
Krafton's Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) was re-released in the country on May 18. The game has got a temporary clearance for 90 days from the government as of now. Government will monitor the game during the three month trial.
Before BGMI, Krafton's flagship game was PUBG Mobile India. It was the most downloaded game in the country until it was banned in 2020. The ban was enacted over the game over privacy concerns about how the company was handling user data.
PUBG was then rebranded as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) and released in the country in 2021. The game saw $33 million in in-app spending from July 2021 to July 2022, according to the estimates by Sensor Tower, an app intelligence firm. BGMI was also banned by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in July 2022 because of concerns about it interacting with Chinese servers.
On the development, Sean Hyunil Sohn, CEO, KRAFTON, Inc. India, says, "We aim to augment technological developments in India by collaborating with local developers and promoting the use of cutting-edge technologies. The title achieved a remarkable milestone by surpassing 100 million cumulative users shortly after a year of its launch. Since its inception, BGMI has significantly contributed to building a robust eSports ecosystem in the country by providing India-centric events and content"
India's first esports event, which was broadcast on Star Sports, was built around BGMI. It had a total of 200 million viewers. Apart from Krafton's official tournaments, plenty of Indian esports organisations also held multiple BGMI tournaments. The game turned out to be a major revenue source for many esports organisations, teams, live streamers, esports players, and gaming content creators in India, industry experts say.
Since BGMI's ban, India has quickly become the fastest-growing market in terms of both revenue and number of gamers. The gaming market is expected to grow from $2.8 billion in 2022 to $5 billion in 2025, growing at a CAGR of 28–30%. As of 2023, India has nearly 400 million gamers who spend an average of 14.1 hours per week gaming.
Industry heads believe that the game's reinstatement will further enhance the scope of gaming in India, that is, if it stays unbanned after 3 months. Industry heads shared their takes on BGMI's reinstatement with afaqs! on the development.
Shiva Nandy, founder and CEO, Skyesports
BGMI was an integral part of our esports roadmap before, and while we have diversified to other titles, we look forward to integrating India's favorite battle royale title into our IPs like the Skyesports League, Skyesports Championship, and more in the near future. The return of the game comes at a great time and will ensure the growth of India's gaming and esports industries.
Piyush Kumar, founder and CEO, Rooter
Battlegrounds Mobile India's comeback is a testimony to the growing impact of gaming as a content category. We are confident that Krafton will continue to work closely with the government and gaming industry stakeholders. We are also excited about the possibilities that this development will unlock for the entire gaming ecosystem in the country.
Anirudh Pandita, founder, Loco
It is exciting to see the return of BGMI, which has been one of the most popular games for the Indian gaming community. This revival holds tremendous potential for players and the gaming industry as a whole. With BGMI's comeback, content creators, streamers, and esports professionals will be presented with fresh avenues to connect with their audience and showcase their talents in the competitive realm. We can also expect a significant rise in user engagement, esports viewership, and revenue generation opportunities with this re-entry. We believe this development will further solidify India's position as a thriving hub for gaming enthusiasts and esports in the country.
Lokesh Suji, director, Esports Federation of India, and VP, Asian Esports Federation (AESF)
The long-awaited return of BGMI after a 10-month hiatus is a much-needed boost for the eSports community in our country. While the game is set to undergo certain changes to ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience for users upon its comeback after a trial period, it is encouraging to see the government taking these safety measures for the youth of the country. With eSports getting official recognition from the government and the community adapting well to the absence of BGMI by expanding other titles, we eagerly anticipate the exponential growth that the sector will experience now that the game is back in the picture.
Rohit Jagasia, Founder and CEO, Revenant Esports
For us at Revenant, we look forward to using the game to strengthen our newly launched content IPs and expand them further to include BGMI. Fans can expect to see a lot of exciting content from us soon. The game's return will definitely be a huge boost to the entire eSports industry and reopen revenue streams for all stakeholders.