Esports firms are chasing PUBG alternatives as the ban stays on
PUBG Mobile essentially does not fit the bill for professional esports the way its console and PC counterparts do but the game is important for India’s esports community nonetheless.
After the government of India banned PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite, esports firms have been left in a lurch and hurriedly looking for alternatives to the super-popular battle royale. Both the games were integral parts of many esports tournaments and many that had been scheduled for this year. But now, thanks to the ban, esport firms are trying to replace it with games like Garena Free Fire and Call of Duty: Mobile to avoid having to cancel these tournaments.
Founder of Gaming Monk, Abhay Sharma told Mint that for tournament organisers, this struggle is more about being put on hold for the coming months.
In the meanwhile, South Korea-based PUBG Corp has announced that it will be taking over the publishing of the game in India and has severed ties with the Chinese Tencent Games. Going forward, PUBG Corp will handle all the publishing responsibilities for the game in India.
Sharma explained that this means that all the engagement around the game would be handled by PUBG Corp and not Tencent.
He added that most events around PUBG Mobile will have to be cancelled because legal entities will have to be changed and that games like COD Mobile and Garena Free Fire will be riding on this ban.
Harsh Kothari, co-founder of Neon Gaming Studio, said that he has already shifted one event to COD Mobile and added that it's one of the solutions that the community is opting for.
While some gamers are using VPNs to play PUBG, professional tournaments aren't taking that route.
“For the professional PUBG gamers and others who derive their livelihoods from this game, it is a great loss as of now. Casual gamers might move to other similar games and explore other genres in gaming, and this will provide a boost to games developed by other industry players. The initial drop in revenue due to the PUBG ban in the gaming industry could be up to 2%," Rajan Navani, vice-chairman and managing director of JetSynthesys, a digital entertainment and technology firm, told Mint.
PUBG Mobile essentially does not fit the bill for professional esports the way its console and PC counterparts do but the game is important for India's esports community nonetheless.
According to Rushindra Sinha, CEO and founder of Global Esports, there were at least 100,000 people who were “looking at PUBG as a full-time career" and over a thousand who were already playing the game as a full-time job.
“The ban will have a ripple effect on the entire ecosystem, which includes players, coaches, streamers, tournament organizers, content creators and brands,” Sinha said adding that tournament prize money in India grew by 180% year-over-year last year.
“PUBG Mobile gamers were making anything from ₹30,000 to ₹1.5 lakh per month. The ban will hit them financially. There were five or six organizations who got a chance in this year's PUBG Mobile Club Open and were just starting with new investments and players, and the game was banned. Some teams have already stopped paying salaries to members," said Devdeep Dhar, a well-known PUBG player who goes by the screen name Zeref, told Mint.