Esports players in India are again in a state of void. After the Indian government banned more than 100 Chinese mobile apps during the height of the Indo-China standoff in June 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs, on Monday, has recommended a ban of 54 Chinese mobile Apps, that include the hugely popular e-game, Garena Free Fire. (More Sports News)
Indian gamers make a living out of playing games like Free Fire and PUBG Mobile. They earn lakhs by streaming the way they play these games and have huge following. The Free Fire App has been taken off from Google's Play Store and iOS App Store.
In September 2020, when the Indian government banned more than 118 Chinese Apps, the axe fell on PUBG Mobile, a game manufactured by well-known Chinese developers Tencent Games.
PUBG was rebranded as Battleground Mobile India (BGMI) and it was allowed in India because it fulfilled legal and security compliances of India. PUBG Mobile Asian Games version will be one of the eight medal events at Hangzhou 2022.
At a time When Indian esports players are recovering from the PUBG ban, Monday's plan to ban more Chinese Apps, has come as a major blow.
Unlike PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, an action adventure battle royale game, is not a game developed by a Chinese company but is Singapore-based. Free Fire became very popular after PUBG was banned.
Indian officials are hopeful that the current ban on 'Chinese' apps will not hurt Garena Free Fire.
"It has come as a bolt from the blue for the Indian esports community, especially for the much popular Free Fire esports athletes who have been competing at national and international platforms and connecting with their fans through the virtual setups," said Lokesh Suji, a vice-president of the Asian Esports Federation.
HOPE AGAINST HOPE
Suji feels this ban may open up for avenues for players and desi developers. "The Indian esports industry has been in the wherewithal situation in the past but that never stopped them from growing and never will as we are not dependent on one game."
"We hope that Garena can work with the Government of India to address the concerns raised around Free Fire. We have seen this happen in the past where titles made their way back after fixing the compliance issues.
"The entire creator and esports community around Free Fire is waiting for a positive and quick resolution to the move," said Vishwalok Nath, director, World Esports Cup and Esports Premier League.
Both these tournaments were played with Free Fire.