Is BGMI Ban a Setback for Gaming Industry?

If the ban stays, it will be damaging to the ever-growing Indian esports ecosystem, believe industry experts

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After PUBG, Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) has now been delisted from Playstore and Appstore. In 2020, the Indian government banned PUBG Mobile and several other Chinese apps and BGMI was launched as an alternative to PUBG Mobile last year.

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Developed and published by Krafton, BGMI surpassed 100 million registered users in July 2022. Apart from the publisher's official tournaments, plenty of Indian esports organizations were also organizing multiple BGMI tournaments with massive prize pools.

Since BGMI was one of the major revenue sources for esports organizations, teams, live streamers, esports players, and gaming content creators in India, how will it affect the ecosystem, we asked industry stakeholders.

"This is too early to comment and we should wait for the official statement from the Government or the publisher to know more about this matter. India is paving its path to becoming a multi-sport nation where every sport is getting the right visibility, audience and investment to grow. We have to reflect the same in Esports where we need to start giving exposure to multi Esports titles and not limited to one," said Lokesh Suji, director, Esports Federation of India & Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF).

The industry is concerned that such occurrences are becoming more common by the year, and are happening without any foresight. "Not very long ago, we saw a wave of China-based apps getting banned overnight, and also saw the likes of Free Fire getting the red flag - all happening without any prior warnings. Also, with the recent incident of a boy killing his mother over a BGMI argument, the game had yet again come under the radar of the government and marked it as "unsafe for young adults". Similar incidents of arguments and damages due to the game have arisen in the past," said Rohit Agarwal, founder and director, Alpha Zegus, a marketing agency specializing in gaming and lifestyle.

The game was released on July 2, 2021 for Android devices, and on August 18, 2021. And, in one year, it became one of the most popular games in India. Rohit Jagasia, founder and CEO, Revenant Esports, thus believes that the ban will definitely be a setback for all major stakeholders like tournament organizations, esports teams, coaches, support staff and most importantly the athletes. "However, at Revenant Esports, we will still be supporting our BGMI Athletes and make sure they use our training facility to create content and try their hand at different games. We have always believed in diversification and will continue to do so, we are optimistic of supporting our BGMI Athletes during these trying times," he said.

"As the official statement is yet to come on the removal of the game, if this game removal will stay for some time then it will be damaging to the ever-growing Indian esports ecosystem. It's not just about one game but with the kind of popularity, player base and viewership BGMI has, it is leading the biggest esports title in India," added Sagar Nair, co-founder and CEO, Qlan, The Gamer's Social Network.

Overall, the experts believe that since a large investment is riding on startups, tournaments and game streaming, a trickle effect waiting to happen. However, having said that, they also see Indian esports growing and thriving despite such setbacks.