Why was Garena Free Fire banned along with other Chinese apps? Know BGMI controversy

Garena Free Fire banned! Yes, that is right. Free Fire was named as one of the 54 Chinese apps banned in India. But why was Garena Free Fire banned? BGMI controversy was brewing too.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:11 IST
Garena Free Fire
As Garena Free Fire has got banned in India due to its China links, more controversies complicate its way forward, including one by BGMI. (ff.garena.com)
Garena Free Fire
As Garena Free Fire has got banned in India due to its China links, more controversies complicate its way forward, including one by BGMI. (ff.garena.com)

Not much love was seen from India on Valentine's day for the very popular Garena Free Fire battle royale game today. The day came with some really bad news for the popular online Free Fire game. Garena Free Fire banned! Yes, indeed, you read that right. The Ministry of Home Affairs has slapped a ban on Garena Free Fire. In fact, 54 Chinese apps stand banned in India due to security threats to the country and Free Fire was listed among them. However, interestingly the game was removed from Google Play Store India before the news regarding the ban even surfaced. Garena Free Fire was removed from App Store and Google Play Store on Sunday. While it is difficult to deduce the real reason behind the removal of Free Fire, it should be mentioned that the game's publishers were fighting a lawsuit against KRAFTON, developers of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) since last month. What is also interesting is that Garena Free Fire MAX, the premium title by the same publisher, is still available on the Play Store to be downloaded at the moment of writing this. All these developments have made the ban of Garena Free Fire a mystery. However, ostensibly, the reason for the Free Fire ban is that it has links to China and may have become a threat to security for alleged data breaches. More or less for what PUBG Mobile India was banned.

There are reasons for the doubt. First, Sea Limited, the parent company behind Garena Free Fire is Singapore-based, unlike all the other apps mentioned in the list. The founder and CEO of the company Forrest Li was born in China but had shifted to Singapore and holds a citizenship of the country. This was one of the reasons why Garena Free Fire survived the first wave of the ban in 2020. But it could definitely be possible that the central government found some fresh connections of the game with China which became the basis of the ban, today. But the timing of the removal of the game from Play Store still creates a few questions regarding the entire scenario.

Garena Free Fire vs BGMI

Tough times for Garena Free Fire began last month when BGMI publisher KRAFTON filed a lawsuit against the former for plagiarism. Not only that, in a separate lawsuit, the Korean publishers sued Google owned YouTube for hosting lengthy videos featuring the Garena Free Fire videos and related content. YouTube has also been accused of “numerous posts containing a feature-length Chinese film that is nothing more than a blatantly infringing live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds.”

While there is no information on whether a court ruling was reached, it could be that the removal from Play Store and Apple app store was a part of censorship by these platforms due to the lawsuit.

Further, Garena Free Fire Max has neither been named by the government nor has it been removed by the Play Store, which raises more questions behind the actual reason for the app's removal. And although Garena Free Fire has been removed from Play Store, for the time being anyone who has the game already installed can still play it and be connected to the server. But this does not offer much hope as the same happened with PUBG and the servers were closed shortly after the ban announcement.

As things stand, not much clarity exists on why Garena Free Fire was banned. At the moment, Garena has not issued a statement on the ban or the lawsuit.

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First Published Date: 14 Feb, 16:34 IST