Battlegrounds Mobile India has made a rather controversial entry into the Indian gaming scene. The viewership of The Launch Party invitational, which is the first official BGMI tournament, is a testament to the fact that mobile esports undoubtedly has a bright future in India.
This goes back to the time when PUBG Mobile was arguably the most popular mobile battle royale in India. Although it racked up millions of views on its tournament streams, it received the ban hammer on 2nd September 2020 by the Government of India.
PUBG Mobile was very close to reaching the pinnacle of mobile gaming in India and also being India's foray into the world of mobile esports. This became the primary reason for Krafton, the parent company of the PUBG franchise, to find a way to comply with Indian laws and re-launch the much-beloved game back in the country.
News of PUBG Mobile's ban in India came as a bolt from the blue for the majority of gamers. The game, which gave a platform to many mobile esports enthusiasts and played a crucial role in establishing the Indian mobile esports scene, was banned in the blink of an eye.
There definitely were options available in the market, with Garena Free Fire & COD Mobile being the biggest competitors to PUBG Mobile. Still, none could match the already-existing mobile esports scene in India, which was born out of the audience's craze for PUBG Mobile.
Garena Free Fire hosted several successful esports tournaments during the course, like the Free Fire World Series. This probably would've led to many PUBG Mobile players taking up the game professionally. However, there were still people who awaited the comeback of PUBG Mobile to the country.
Even though Krafton tried to relaunch the game in 2020 under the name PUBG Mobile India, nothing except the trailer could receive an official release due to several issues.
Battlegrounds Mobile India's official launch
Fast forward exactly ten months, and on July 2, 2021, Battlegrounds Mobile India received its official launch for Android devices in a revamped avatar. For those who don't know, Battlegrounds Mobile India, or BGMI, is very similar to PUBG Mobile. The only difference one can spot between the two games is that the former caters only to the Indian audience and has its own dedicated servers located in the country.
The game's official launch had many eyeballs set on it, not because it was the launch of just another game, but because it was the official comeback of PUBG Mobile in sorts.
Battlegrounds Mobile India's official release wasn't an easy task for Krafton. Reportedly, the developer had to set up a new headquarters in India and hire new recruits to launch a new game. Fresh interfaces, mechanics, and dedicated servers also had to be set up in the country.
Battlegrounds Mobile India received its first official beta rollout on June 17, 2021. The game immediately caught the attention of all those who were, or were not, waiting for its release. On July 2, 2021, Krafton rolled out the final version of the game for Android devices, which came as a sigh of relief for most battle royale enthusiasts.
Battlegrounds Mobile India's first invitational: The Launch Party
Krafton announced the first esports tournament, The Launch Party, on the July 6, 2021. The tournament is taking place on the 8th & 9th of July. The Launch Party features a prize pool of 6 lakh INR and has some of the most popular PUBG Mobile influencers taking part.
While the audience believed the first tournament should have been an open-for-all esports tournament, the intention behind this invitational was to reach out to the masses. These influencers collectively have millions of followers across several platforms and are the biggest names in the mobile esports industry in India. Some of the players participating are SouL Mortal, ScoutOP, Dynamo Gaming, Jonathan, among others.
Right on the first day of the tournament, the peak viewership on YouTube clocked 547k within 4 hours of streaming, which was way more than one could expect on the first day of the first tournament.
The high numbers mean that Battlegrounds Mobile India is finally on course to re-establish the craze of PUBG Mobile in the country, which might not have withered completely. According to the latest reports, Battlegrounds Mobile India might have its first open-for-all tournament this month itself. The developers have also launched a dedicated esports website for the same, which hints that a major announcement is not far away.
Battlegrounds Mobile India will have multiple tournaments in the future, which might also lead to it being included in PUBG Mobile's global esports plans. This also means that Indian players might be allowed to compete with players from other countries.
Battlegrounds Mobile India's first tournament clocking 547k peak viewership also means that the success of PUBG Mobile could potentially be replicated by BGMI. Having said that, there is still a long way to go for Krafton if it wants to re-ignite the craze of PUBG Mobile in the country.
Battlegrounds Mobile India needs to climb steep mountains as it also faces opposition on various fronts, the majority of which have to deal with PUBG Mobile's ban in the country. As things stand, PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile India are still banned entities in India.
Will Battlegrounds Mobile India be able to establish itself as the audience-favourite mobile esport in India, or will it just remain a shadow of PUBG Mobile's then-popularity? While the former seems more likely, the possibility of the latter cannot be ignored as well.
It is all up to Krafton's plans and if they manage to get things done right. As of now, they have gotten most things right, except for the iOS release, which is nowhere in sight.
If Krafton can establish Battlegrounds Mobile India as a household battle royale game in India and match the popularity of PUBG Mobile, the success for its esports scene is not far away.