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The Tech Panda asked gaming industry leaders’ thoughts regarding impact of the recent Garena Free Fire ban on the booming eSports sector.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has recommended a ban on 54 Chinese mobile applications, including the popular game Garena Free Fire. The reason cited is again that these apps threaten India’s security and privacy. Following the ban, Google has withdrawn the Garena Free Fire app from Play Store in compliance with government orders.


Read more: ‘India is the next hot spot for esports games and companies’


Once titled the most downloaded mobile game globally, the highly engaging battle royale game enjoys a high prize pool at its national and international tournaments. The news has come as a shock, as athletes of the game have a loyal fan base and have earned fame through this very game.

The Tech Panda thought it would be interesting to check industry leaders’ take and what they think would be the way forward. Here’s a looksie into how gaming industry leaders think this would put an impact on the booming Esports sector.

‘We are not dependent on one game’

Lokesh Suji, Director of Esports Federation of India and Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF) fully supports the government’s decision.

Lokesh Suji

We fully support this and will fully support any such decisions taken by our government, when it comes to safeguarding national integrity and security. The Indian esports industry has been in the wherewithal situation in the past but that never stopped them from growing and never will as we are not dependent on one game

“It has come as a bolt from the blue for the Indian esports community, especially for the much popular Free Fire esports athletes who have been competing at national and international platforms and connecting with their fans through the virtual setups,” he says.

“However, there is no need to be disappointed, we believe this will diversify the gaming industry as new players will be introduced and will encourage homegrown video gaming developers, allowing them to curate games based on Indian ethos and culture and showcase Indian capabilities when it comes to developing world-class video games,” he added.

“We fully support this and will fully support any such decisions taken by our government, when it comes to safeguarding national integrity and security. The Indian esports industry has been in the wherewithal situation in the past but that never stopped them from growing and never will as we are not dependent on one game,” he says.

‘Waiting for a positive and quick resolution’

In 2020, after the TikTok ban in India, PUBG Mobile was banned, along with 117 other Chinese apps, disappointing millions. Free Fire and Fortnite were the games that filled that vacuum. Homegrown games like FAU-G too tried.

Vishwalok Nath, Director of World Esports Cup and Esports Premier League, both tournaments played with Free Fire, looks forward to a turnaround after compliances are met.

Vishwalok Nath

We have seen this happen in the past where titles made their way back after fixing the compliance issues. The entire creator and esports community around Free Fire is waiting for a positive and quick resolution to the move

“We hope that Garena can work with the Government of India to address the concerns raised around Free Fire. We have seen this happen in the past where titles made their way back after fixing the compliance issues. The entire creator and esports community around Free Fire is waiting for a positive and quick resolution to the move,” he says.

‘It’s mostly a wait and watch game here till we learn more’

Sagar Nair, Co-Founder and CEO of Qlan, past lessons, read PUBG ban, tells us that a resolution might be on its way, but it could take a while.

Sagar Nair

We’ve seen this happen before with the PUB G ban and if we are to learn from it, it seems like it may as well be a long-drawn battle to bring back the game

“The Free Fire community is one of the largest and fastest-growing esports communities in India. The sudden banning of the game has surely blindsided a massive number of gamers. We’ve seen this happen before with the PUB G ban and if we are to learn from it, it seems like it may as well be a long-drawn battle to bring back the game,” he says.

Meanwhile, the government ban doesn’t extend to the second version of the game, Garena Free Fire Max. This game can still be downloaded on Google Play Store. Free Fire became immensely popular after two versions of PUBG were banned in India in September 2020.


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“While the community handles this setback, gamers do have an alternative in the form of Free Fire Max which is still available for download. Unfortunately, it’s mostly a wait and watch game here till we learn more,” he adds.

PUBG, a battle royale game developed by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. Garena, the publisher of Free Fire is from Singapore. The Chinese connection here seems elusive.

Meanwhile Indian gamers await a resolution.

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