The Indian government has released a list of 59 apps that will be banned in the country, most of which are Chinese. An official statement made by the Ministry of Electronics and IT states that these apps “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.” The biggest name in the list of banned apps is digital video sharing social network Tik Tok, which has over 100M monthly users in the country. Tik Tok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. In the games category, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and Clash of Kings were the only two titles banned.
The move comes as political and military tensions between both countries continue to escalate since the Galwan Valley clash between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on June 15. The official statement also reads, “The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”
While Mobile Legends isn’t necessarily the most popular title in India, there are growing concerns over other popular titles such as PUBG MOBILE and Call of Duty: Mobile, both of which are owned by Tencent and/or subsidiary companies such as Timi Studios. There are also concerns related to Supercell titles such as Clash Royale, Clash of Clans, and Brawl Stars, also owned by Tencent.
Mobile Legends is a massively online battle arena (MOBA) for mobile platforms and a very popular title in Southeast Asia. The game had over 75M monthly users in August 2019, the majority of whom came from the SEA region. It also has a thriving esports scene, with local country-specific leagues and world championships. And while Clash of Kings isn’t an esport, the title has been endorsed by multiple global celebrities and saw over 65M downloads within the first year of its release in 2014.
While the significantly larger player bases of PUBG MOBILE and Call of Duty: Mobile may be an immediate deterrent to warrant a ban, one can only speculate what the outcome could be if the situation worsens. With a large ecosystem of content creators, professional players, organizations, talent agencies, and tournament organizers already dealing with the effects of the ongoing global pandemic, the announcement could not have come at a worse time.
Editor’s note: An earlier iteration of this story listed Honor of Kings as one of the banned apps in the tile and the header image. The banned game is Clash of Kings. We have updated the story and image to reflect this.
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