'The Mobile View' - A Look Into Mobile Gaming Fads - I

What is this?

An attempt at checking out the mobile gaming market and some of the trends that surround it. I've been fairly regular in trying to keep tabs on the happenings on the stores and around for quite some time now. I'd now like to be a bit more systematic to list down my observations and views through this series of posts which I'd call 'The Mobile View'. (Better name options are welcome.)

EDIT: Putting these posts under a single umbrella adds unnecessary constraints, and there's currently no easy way to segment it as a series of posts on this platform yet. So, I'll not continue with segmenting all the posts under single 'The Mobile View' header.


PUBG Mobile in India

Image source: shorturl.at/gjvxS

PUBG Mobile had been one of the biggest games in the Indian market. The rising concerns of data privacy first got TikTok to be banned in India, and PUBG Mobile followed soon enough.

This news was big because the game had huge amount of users in India. Although India was never the most money making market for the game, the sheer volume of users in India was quite significant.

Post the ban, there was some hype built around a new game, developed locally, which was supposed to take its place. I had some doubts about the probability of their success after the announcement which I had listed down earlier. Do check out the link below for more context about the happenings just after this ban was announced.

As we wait for FAU-G, there've been some, quite expected, updates with respect to PUBG Mobile in the past month. PUBG Mobile, is a game developed by a South Korean entity, and it was published by Tencent, a Chinese entity, in India. The concerns with this game that allegedly resulted in the ban, were with the Chinese entity handling the user data.

To solve this, PUBG Corporation issued a statement soon enough that it'll not authorize the PUBG Mobile franchise to Tencent in India any more. The players accessing global servers in the game also received a message stating that they would lose access to the game at the end of October.

One point to note here is that they mentioned about the publishing rights in this statement - "Rights to publish PUBG Mobile in India will be returned to the owner of the PUBG intellectual property."

This meant that the game was going to return to India under different publishing partners soon enough. There have also been reports of a Reliance partnership to get the game back online.

After this lengthy process of banning and then giving a glimmer of hope to the Indian PUBG community, there was this announcement a couple of days back.

While the date is not revealed yet, it is confirmed that the game is coming back to the Indian stores soon.

Market in the mean time

Unavailability of one of the most popular games made some space for other games to fill it up with.

As anticipated, other Battle Royale games had the most to gain due to this ban. Free Fire, and Call of Duty Mobile - the two big games with Battle Royale modes saw a major spike in their downloads in the week after the ban announcement. However, they were back to their usual numbers soon after.

A possible reason that this spike wasn't sustained longer could also be the sudden popularity of Among Us during this time. This was the time where it got a huge boost of downloads worldwide and it became the new pastime for many. This game is very different from PUBG and it'd not be valid to say that the same players converted to Among Us from PUBG. However, there was more space created for new games with a big player disappearing, and the multiplayer nature of Among Us would've appealed to some of this audience as well.

After PUBG returns

Now that it is clear that PUBG is returning soon, all other competitors in the Battle Royale space, especially Free Fire, would have to make extra effort to keep their players from switching back. It'll be a difficult task for sure since it's not been too long a break for PUBG and the players who've built their community there would like to switch back to PUBG once it's back online.

Free Fire seems to be putting good effort in targeting the Indian market using brand collaborations outside their game and trying to be relevant to the market.

In addition to this, the publicity that PUBG has already garnered as a result of being in the news all this while is sure to make new players interested in checking out what the hype is about.

As for FAU-G, the game that's supposed to be the home grown alternative, all we know so far is that it's slotted for release in November 2020 according to a recent tweet from the developers along with the teaser reveal.

Although my concerns mentioned in my previous write up still stand true for this game, I'm quite interested to see how everything pans out.

It'd be interesting to see how all of the above things effect the players and player behaviors in the Indian mobile gaming market in the coming times.

TL;DR

  1. PUBG Mobile is going to be back on the Indian app stores soon, after being removed from store in early September 2020.

  2. Some other games would've benefitted from its absence in the past few months.

  3. It'll be a challenge for these games to keep these new users from making the switch back to PUBG Mobile.

  4. The home grown alternative to PUBG Mobile, which had a huge hype at its announcement, is still awaiting release.

  5. The player behavior in this segment of multiplayer games would be interesting to see in the coming times.


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Ishan Manjrekar

Game Designer, exploring stuff in and around the digital products space