The return of PUBG and online gaming
With over 50 million users in India, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), an online multiplayer mobile game, changed the course of Indian gaming community by providing their players an innovative gaming experience. While the PUBG ban predominantly affected the entrepreneurs and professional gamers the most, players who were solely dependent on the game’s monthly income and students who were playing the game in order to deal with uncertainty during the pandemic were heartbroken. After various speculations and rumors of the app’s return, PUBG cooperation announced the comeback of PUBG India with new features and enhanced customer service, making fans all over India let out a huge sigh of relief. The game is being set in a virtual background setting with new characters, green hit effects, enhanced data privacy mode including restrictions on game timing for young players.
The invention of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), immensely boosted Indian Esports industry over the years. Professional online gamers with a strong fan base started earning around 40k to 50k per month. Various tournaments and pool matches were conducted with a specific price amount and they streamed their playing for amateur players to learn their strategies and tactics. App developers monetized their apps by providing quality gaming experiences with in-app purchases and advertisements trending among Indian gamers.
While there are various alternatives like Clash of Clans, Brawl stars, Call of Duty mobile etc, would the replacements be as user friendly and accessible as PUBG was a question of doubt. “Thousands of gamers lost a chance of becoming a professional Esports athlete after the ban. Most of them have given up. This is happening every day and it saddens me. Not everyone is financially well off to get a good gaming phone or a computer. PUBG mobile was a source of hope.” says Prajyun, a Professional Gamer.
While the government announced the termination of the PUBG game from Playstore, players who had already installed the app, had access over it. The recent launch of PUBG India stirred up hopes among youth and players who were predicting the return of the game, rejoiced. “ I had a hard time accepting the new normal and the pandemic took a huge toll on my mental health. Playing PUBG once a day acted as my coping mechanism as well as a distraction. I was shaken hearing the PUBG ban but given the reasons for the ban, I let it pass by and desperately hoped for its return… PUBG India will definitely boost the online gaming market with its improved in-game content and other new features,” says Deepak, a student from VIT.
Arpita Joshi, an aspiring professional gamer from Mumbai said, “PUBG was a game played by all and the amount of impact it had in my life is completely different when compared to other users. I knew that this is what I wanted to do in life and worked hard to improve myself everyday. With women players emerging from the male-dominated online gaming platform, I felt it was the right time for me to shine as well… PUBG’s comeback was the most anticipated news of 2020 and I hope they don’t make any major changes in the game’s structure”
Online gaming in India didn’t receive adequate recognition during the 90s with PCs and consoles at an exorbitant cost. After the emergence of smartphones and Internet users, India’s estimated online gaming market value now stands at USD 290 million with more than 120 million online gamers and is expected to have a growth rate of USD 1 billion by 2021. Cities in India are steadily becoming a part of the gaming industry, owing to inexpensive data plans, advanced internet access and affordable new technologies. India is also known to be the country with the youngest population which has prompted high investments and startups to capitalize on it
Despite the abundant opportunities and scope in the Indian gaming industry, Esports gaming in India is still not accepted as a full-time career choice. People are either unsure of what online gaming is or oblivious to the fact that Esports is a reliable career choice. This, ultimately, has affected online gamer’s well-deserved recognition and talent. “With millions of talents from our country, only a handful of people are recognized as talent. Besides that, not everyone has the financial and emotional support to go all the way of becoming a ‘professional gamer’. I personally know a lot of gamers who are super-talented, but their parents won’t allow them to compete because they don’t prefer Esports. This is very common among most of them. But apart from that, many international and national organizations/sponsors have recognized and picked talent from our country, which is definite proof that Indian Esports is improving. But the pace is too slow. We need a bigger and better platform that is bias-free.” says Prajyun.