Apr 2019

“Is he a PUBG enthusiast?” asked Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister to one of the mothers who had asked for his counsel on her son’s addiction to online gaming.

There you go, you know it – a nation of 1.3 billion people has jumped on to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) bandwagon when Prime Minister Modi brazenly makes a reference to the online game. The evidence for the PUBG wildfire is there for all to see especially when a Bollywood movie enlists a YouTube PUBG streamer to promote the movie.

PUBG is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole.

For all the naysayers, the mobile game has infused the fledgeling gaming industry in India with new hopes and inspiration.
PUBG mobile has given online gaming an option to be a career option”,

Such is the popularity and involvement of PUBG that a recent campus spawn competition had a prize money of Rs. 50 Lakhs or about 70,000 USD. To put into context that is around the same prize money offered in a high profile limited overs cricket series in India.

PUBG mobile has also invoked a new lease of life in YouTube streamers in India. Mortal, Dynamo Gaming, CosmicYT, Carryminati, Kronten Gaming are some of the most well-known gamers in India whose YouTube subscriber base has exploded exponentially after they started streaming PUBG. Streamers like Dynamo Gaming had a few thousand streamers a few months back, and ever since has seen their YouTube subscriber base grow up to 1.8 million and counting.

True, the easy access and penetration of mobile internet in India with the introduction of Jio providing cheap 3G/4G data has served as a catalyst for the growth of the game in India. However, the features and adaptability of the game also contributed to the massive success of the game in India.

Bollywood has also jumped on to the bandwagon with a recently released movie. Soul Mortal – one of the most popular PUBG players in India recently got an opportunity to play PUBG mobile life with a famous Bollywood actor, Vicky Kaushal, which was used to promote his movie URI.

Well, brands like leading phone makers, OPPO seem to be following PUBG trend too by opening a PUBG themed store in Bangalore.

Notwithstanding all the noise around PUBG in India, the game has seen a fair share of detractors too  – with reports of universities banning the game in campus.

For the better, or worse PUBG seems to have created a new lease of life in the fledgeling online gaming circle in India and it might well as become a vehicle for co-branding in India.

Let’s wait and see if India has really been served Chicken for Dinner.

Himanjan Borah