Indians are hooked to mobile games and the top game is PUBG. Also many Indians specially youngsters love to play video games and bet on Mini Militia, Teenpatti, Dream11 and Clash Royale. But it’s Tencent’s PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) that’s right now cause of concern.
The ban on PUBG game in India
Due to recent deaths of many kids India believes that this ‘epidemic’ game can turn kids into psychopaths. Multiple cities have banned PUBG, and police in Western India arrested 10 university students for playing. The national child rights commission has recommended barring the game for its violent nature.
India with increasing mobile users has landed in the strange digital world of no laws or morals. It skipped two decades of debate and adjustment, blowing into the modern gaming era in a matter of months. Rural communities that never had PCs or game consoles got smartphones in recent years and wireless service just became affordable for pretty much everyone after a price war last year.
Local politicians, parents and teachers have expressed outrage over PUBG, arguing the game will spur violence and divert students from their academics.
South Korea’s Bluehole Inc., which made the original PUBG for PCs and then partnered with Tencent on the mobile version, has taken a cautious approach. The company said it was looking at the legal basis of the bans in various cities and will confer with authorities to find a solution. It said they are working on the introduction of a healthy gameplay system in India to promote balanced, responsible gaming, including limiting play time for under-aged players.
Because gaming is so new in India, there are no regulatory policies in place. In contrast, Tencent currently bans players in China under 13 from playing PUBG and imposes restrictions such as real-name registrations. In Germany, players under 16 are restricted. A clinic for breaking digital addictions, run by the country’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bangalore, is recording several PUBG addiction cases every week
Gamers use skill to make money
PUBG gamers in India are using their skills to earn cash through wagers by placing bets on themselves. Cybersecurity and legal experts say that’s in violation of the ban on such activity, which has previously got India’s favourite sport of cricket in trouble several times. A student competition in the southern city of Hyderabad received 250,000 registrations from more than 1,000 colleges. One team walked away with a 1.5 million rupee ($22,000) prize as the top PUBG players, just days before this month’s arrests.
According to experts, along with fake news, misinformation and child pornography, WhatsApp and other social media channels have emerged as a platform for illegal activities such as online betting, including the videogame variety. While WhatsApp groups have been used for betting on live sporting events such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), the trend of betting on video games is said to be catching on.
Experts add that players of the widely popular PUBG, backed by China’s Tencent, are mostly college goers who earn from Rs 100 to 5,000 a day, depending on their expertise. Online betting would earlier involve the exchange of coins or incentives to proceed in the game but now it’s being done through real cash with the use of Google Pay and Paytm. Access to such invite-based groups is quite easy. Once you are verified, a particular login and password would be shared, which helps you enter the chat rooms and discuss.
PUBG which is an online multi-player game, has topped the charts both on Google and iOS. Up to 100 players are pitted against each other after being para-dropped onto the territory. Each player has a virtual character or avatar that can play alone or team up with others to make kills, the intent being to stay alive. Bettors team up within small groups to defeat other players and then carry on the battle among themselves.
According to one player if the game is new, he or she first plays without any money involved. As the player understands the game better, each kill can earn them at least Rs 10, going up to Rs 200 per kill. If a player wins the game, they can earn up to Rs 5,000.” The pot could also be shared by the players. Google Pay’s policies stipulate that any sort of online or offline gambling, where money or other items of value are paid in exchange to win real money or prizes based on the outcome of a game, is not allowed and accounts will be suspended as punishment. Google said the authorities have not flagged any such cases to them so far.
According to Salman Waris, managing partner at law firm TechLegis Advocates & Solicitors, there is no specific law for online gambling, under the Public Gaming Act of 1892, such activity is illegal since betting on games is not allowed. This is essentially a game where you cannot predict and there is no special skill required. Such games are strictly prohibited. Certain games that require skill like rummy are allowed but not video games like PUBG. Experts said Indian authorities are watching closely and such instances of betting could possibly lead to a nationwide ban.