Garena Free Fire banned by Google from Google Play Store in India; here is why | Gaming News

Garena Free Fire banned by Google from Google Play Store in India; here is why

Before the government order to ban 54 Chinese apps came in, Google got Garena Free Fire banned on Google Play Store on Sunday itself. Find out why it was really removed

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:11 IST
Garena Free Fire
Garena Free Fire was one of the 54 Chinese apps government recommended a ban against yesterday. However, Free Fire was gone from Google Play Store well before that. (Google Play Store)

Garena Free Fire banned: In the morning hours of February 14, Garena Free Fire was named as one of the 54 Chinese apps to be banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The government order was placed as these apps posed a threat to the national security of India. And while all apps were soon removed from Google Play Store, Garena Free Fire ban was a bit of an anomaly. Why? Because it was removed from the Play Store one day earlier, on Sunday, February 13! As puzzling as this sounds, this reveals deeper issues currently going on with Sea Limited, the parent company of Garena Free Fire. A month ago, KRAFTON, the publisher of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) filed a lawsuit against Garena. It appears that the lawsuit might have had something to do with the removal of the application from not only Google Play Store but also Apple App Store.

The entire situation around Garena Free Fire is quite complicated from the looks of it. And there are multiple layers which make the eventual removal from Google Play Store intriguing to say the least. First, the ties of Garena Free Fire with China are not as explicit as the other 53 apps named. Sea Limited is a Singapore-based company and its founder Forrest Li, although born in China, is presently a citizen of Singapore. This information is important since Free Fire escaped the ban in 2020, which saw extremely popular PUBG Mobile and TikTok banned from India. Now, while that is not enough to ascertain the lack of Garena Free Fire's Chinese connection, it does raise a question over the timing of the ban. Having said that, PUBG Mobile is actually owned by a South Korean company, but it had links with China.

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Garena Free Fire ban by Google Play Store might have more to it

It was no secret that Garena Free Fire got entangled in a legal battle with KRAFTON a month ago due to allegations of plagiarism. KRAFTON accused Free Fire was a ‘blatant' copy of PUBG: Battlegrounds and had used various game mechanics like air drops, maps, selection of weapons and the structure of the game from the South Korean publisher. What connects Play Store to this entire issue is that KRAFTON had also filed a separate lawsuit against Google's YouTube and Play Store for hosting Garena Free Fire and publishing its content and earning from it.

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It appears that Garena Free Fire ban by Google Play Store could be a self imposed one as it came almost a day earlier to the government ban. While the ruling of KRAFTON vs Garena has not come out and not much details are available, Play Store removing the app could be in some way connected to the lawsuit. After all, Krafton had also sued Google for making Garena Free Fire available on Google Play Store and it was making money from it.

The only other possibility is that Google somehow found out about the ban beforehand, although that seems unlikely as the other apps were not removed. Google is yet to make a statement on the entire situation that can shed further light on it.

HT Tech reached out to Garena for a comment on the government ban on the game. The publisher said, “We are aware that Free Fire is currently unavailable in the Google Play and iOS app stores in India and that the game is currently not operable for some users in the country. We are working to address this situation, and we apologize to our users for any inconvenience.”

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First Published Date: 15 Feb, 11:59 IST