BGMI ban to hit eSports sector

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NEW DELHI : A ban on Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) will severely impact India’s fledgling eSports industry given the strong popularity of the game which has more than 100 million registered users in the country.

Devdeep Dhar, also known as Soul Zeref in the gaming community, is worried that a ban might lead to yet another disruption in the eSports industry and hit the viewership of gamers who earn by streaming BGMI gaming sessions. For Indian eSports, BGMI is the biggest game currently, accounting for all major tournaments, said Dhar. He said that even among game streamers, there are many who have grown their audiences from BGMI. “They don’t know what to do. Some of them have millions of subscribers. They are concerned about their viewership,” he added.

Though the government has yet to make an official announcement on banning BGMI, the app was taken down from Google Play and Apple App Store last week under Section 69A of the IT Act, sparking concerns that it is headed down the same road as PUBG Mobile.

PUBG Mobile was banned in September 2020 along with hundreds of apps and games with Chinese links over security concerns. BGMI is a rebranded version of the game with Indian content and is being distributed by the game’s original publisher Krafton, a South Korean company. The game was launched in July 2021 after Krafton severed ties with China’s Tencent, which was distributing PUBG Mobile in India and was accused by the government of sending user data to China.

Though Krafton said it is in talks with the government to resolve the imbroglio, many feel that if the stalemate continues, it will disrupt the gaming and eSports industry, given BGMI’s huge following.

“The BGMI ban will definitely be a setback for all major stakeholders like tournament organizations, eSports teams, support staff, and most importantly the athletes,” said Rohit Jagasia, founder and chief executive of Revenant eSports.

Rohit Agarwal, founder and director of influencer marketing firm Alpha Zegus pointed out, “If BGMI is banned, tournament sponsorship volumes may decrease, and the size of prize pools may take a dip until the industry figures out a resolution.”

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