Can Battlegrounds Mobile India fit the PUBG Mobile Esports ecosystem?

Battlegrounds Mobile India is slowly becoming a reality, and we are slowly finding out the game will not be a part of the PUBG Mobile Esports ecosystem. What does this mean for thousands of teams competing in the South Asia Region.

Battlegrounds Mobile India

Battlegrounds Mobile India Beta and Changes

Krafton recently announced the re-release of PUBG Mobile in India, months after the app was banned back in September 2020. The game is available under the name Battlegrounds Mobile India and is available on the Google Play Store. After releasing one week ago for selected testers, BGMI is now in an open early access state, however, places are restricted on a first come first serve basis, with the number of places to expand over time. There’s no word yet as to the full release date, although Krafton have confirmed that any early access progress will carry over to the full release.

The previous version of PUBG mobile was banned in India in September last year during a crackdown on Chinese apps after deadly border tensions. It had previously been published in India by Tencent, however, this new version has been directly published by Krafton. To further alleviate concerns about the export of user data from India, Krafton has also signed a partnership with Microsoft for the service to be hosted on its Azure cloud service.

The version of BGMI the Google Play store is 721MB and makes use of a lightweight installation design. Once you’ve downloaded the game, you’ll need to select a resource pack to also download. Users with high-end phones can take advantage of the graphics of the HD Resource Pack, while gamers with less powerful devices will appreciate the increased performance available with the Low-Spec Resource Pack. There are also APK and OBB versions of the app available via Mediafire, however, users should be wary of downloading these, as they don’t appear to be official sources and therefore may not be entirely legitimate.

Battlegrounds Mobile India features a few small changes from the global version of PUBG Mobile. Firstly, the word “killed” has been removed and replaced with “defeated” and “finishes”. The other change is that red blood has been removed from the game.

PUBG Mobile Esports to take a hit

Users that had an account on the previous version of PUBG Mobile in India are able to retrieve their account and continue their progress. This requires, however, that the account was previously linked to your Facebook or Twitter account. Logging into BGMI with either of these platforms will allow users to transfer their previous account to the new version of the game.

The restoration of the mobile version of PUBG to the Indian market is not only great news for Indian mobile gamers but also for the mobile esports scene. Before the Tencent version was banned, the game was a driving force for mobile esports with a number of esports tournaments having taken place. The PUBG Mobile Club Open had over 80000 teams, while there was also the PUBG Mobile Campus Championship for college teams, although both events were marred by cheating scandals.

The new immediate problem is that PUBG Mobile players and BGMI players are not likely to compete in the same circuit. This however does not mean that Krafton wont make some accommodations for Indian players to compete in PUBG Moble when they attend LAN events abroad. We’ve seen players swap between both Freefire and PUBG Mobile with relative ease, and swapping between both versions shouldn’t be a hassle.

There is however the larger problem of having an isolated scene for Battlegrounds Mobile India and the sustainability of teams competing. Without cross regional play, come hardships in attracting and retaining sponsors to keep the organizations afloat.

With the release of BGMI, it’s likely that the game will quickly regain its popularity. While it’s likely to take a little while to see esports tournaments again, they will certainly return. The BGMI esports scene is also likely to benefit from the $100m that Krafton has promised to invest in Indian esports and related local ecosystems. The resumption of the mobile esports events will also likely expand the PUBG betting options.