Battlegrounds Mobile India may have more in common with China’s PUBG Mobile than Krafton would like to admit. Despite Krafton trying its best to make India believe that this is a brand new game built from the ground up for the nation, rather than a re-release of PUBG Mobile under a different name, there’s ample proof to suggest it’s more of the same. So if you were expecting Krafton to be true to its word of Battlegrounds Mobile India being something different, think again.
Reason being, you don’t have to look much further than Krafton’s attempts at keeping revenue streams alive in other markets like China to know what kind of changes to expect.
For starters, the Chinese version of PUBG Mobile is known as Peacekeeper Elite. In order to comply with local regulations, violence has been toned down in certain ways such as the use of green blood rather than red. Furthermore, the overall concept of the game has changed too. Rather than a last player standing scenario, Peacekeeper Elite is focussed on army training situations.
When you consider these changes, it is safe to say that Krafton’s attempt at bringing Battlegrounds Mobile India to life may include such aspects. Particularly in light of recent comments from government officials.
In March, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar stated that many mobile games are “violent, explicit and addictive” and the government plans to promote Indian cultural ethos in games, signalling out PUBG Mobile in particular.
Gameplay changes aside, Peacekeeper Elite also includes some other aspects to comply with Chinese regulations according Niko Partners Senior Analyst Daniel Ahmad. Niko Partners is one of the few firms that tracks the Chinese and Asian video game markets.
“Tencent, which develops and publishes Peacekeeper Elite in China, has also added an anti-addiction system to the game as per regulations,” says Ahmad. “This requires players to register with their real name and ID before they can start playing the game. If the player is under the age of 18 they will be subject to time and spend restrictions within the game. China’s game regulator has mandated this since the end of 2019 in an effort to curb gaming addiction among the youth.”
It will be interesting to see if Krafton incorporates such a feature in Battlegrounds Mobile India. If so, it could be seen as a greater privacy violation than PUBG Mobile was.
In fact, when Krafton tried to re-release PUBG Mobile as PUBG Mobile India in November 2020, it was set to incorporate similar features. This included green blood, fully-dressed characters, and a time limit. Ahmad believes these could make it to Battlegrounds Mobile India.
“Given the concern around the game in the country, we would expect the new version announced this week to incorporate similar elements, in addition to storing user data locally,” he says. “However, it is still unclear whether these changes and a name change would please regulators in India as the main concern revolves around whether Tencent, a Chinese company, would still be involved in the development of the title.”
It will be interesting to see how Krafton deal with this. Reason being, it’s unlikely (and tremendously expensive) that the company would throw away years of work on PUBG Mobile and build a completely new game from ground up.
Rather, it’s quite likely that Battlegrounds Mobile India’s source code would be similar to Peacekeeper Elite and PUBG Mobile — two games that were made by Tencent.
On top of that, Krafton’s reluctance to even mention PUBG Mobile in its communication suggests that the company is far from being transparent in its intentions for the market. As always we’ve reached out to Krafton for comment and will update this story if we hear from the company.
Nonetheless, with a rumoured launch “coming soon” according to Krafton India boss Aneesh Aravind, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.