India’s fast-growing gaming and esports market – and the associated marketing opportunity – has been thrown into turmoil by the government’s ban on a number of Chinese apps, a decision which caught the popular mobile game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUGB) in its net.

The South Korean developer of the game has severed its ties in India with Chinese giant Tencent Games, which held the local distribution franchise, and is now seeking a new licensing agreement with an Indian gaming firm in the hope of having the ban lifted.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of PUBG to India’s gaming market and vice versa: with 175 million downloads, India accounts for a quarter of the game’s downloads globally; Mint also reports PUBG Mobile made over $100 million in 2019 from in-app purchases in India.

“PUBG Mobile has re-defined the word ‘gamer’ in India and broadened the scope of the esports audience to encompass everyone from the local village shopkeepers to the white-collar professionals in the bustling cities of Mumbai and New Delhi,” says Nishant Patel, Co-founder of AFK Gaming, writing in The WARC Guide to Marketing in the Gaming Ecosystem .

Any social stigma that surrounded gaming has been lifted as Bollywood celebrities, cricketers and other mainstream personalities have taken cognisance of the game, he adds.

It has also offered marketers a new way to reach the country’s large and growing population of young, tech-savvy gamers.

But now, just as with the TikTok ban, both players and marketers are casting around for alternatives; The Indian Express reports a massive increase in downloads of first-person shooter games Call of Duty Mobile, Garena Free Fire and Ludo King.

While PUGB hopes to reverse the ban, it stands to lose ground to its rivals in the interim.

Meanwhile the gaming market will continue to grow and evolve – viewership for popular Indian gaming live-streamers now rivals numbers seen by the most popular international broadcasters on Twitch – and marketers can explore tie-ups with popular esports team and influencers, sponsorship of tournaments and advertising on dedicated media portals.

Read more on the marketing opportunities in gaming in India in Nishan Patel’s article: Navigating the Indian esports landscape.

WARC subscribers can read the complete WARC Guide to Marketing in the Gaming Ecosystem here.

The WARC Guide is a compilation of fresh new research and expert guidance with WARC’s editorial teams in New York, London, Singapore and Shanghai pulling in the best new thinking globally. It also showcases the best on WARC – case studies, best practice and data sourced from across the platform.

Sourced from Mint, Indian Express, WARC