Massively popular battle royale game PUBG Mobile is returning to India after being banned in September 2020, TechCrunch writes. The app is available in early access on Google’s Play Store under a new name, Battlegrounds Mobile India, and with some changes to the game itself, like green blood and a new account system.
PUBG Mobile was initially banned alongside hundreds of other apps because of connections to Chinese companies — in this game’s case, it was major video game investor Tencent. At the time of the ban, PUBG Studio (owned by the larger South Korean company Krafton) announced that it would relaunch in the region with new features customized for Indian gamers, including the color change to blood, and framing the game explicitly as a “virtual simulation training ground.”
TechCrunch writes that beyond modified bodily fluids — part of a long tradition of censoring depictions of violence in games — and reminders that the game isn’t real, Battlegrounds seems to be the same as PUBG Mobile. There’s apparently even a way to easily transfer your account from the older game to the new one.
The really consequential changes may be less visible. The Indian government’s major justification for the ban was that it had concerns about where users’ data was transmitted, with the idea that it was not comfortable having that data sent to places outside of India (read: China).
Ahead of its planned relaunch, PUBG Studio announced it was severing ties with Tencent in India and moving the game’s hosting to Microsoft Azure data centers in the country, which may have solved the matter well before any green blood did.