Muslim gamers boycott PUBG Mobile for insulting holy site
Already facing bans in India, angered players add to the pressure
PUBG Mobile is insanely popular in India -- so much so that four cities have banned the game for the sake of protecting children. An estimated 21 people have been arrested for playing it, and the game now appears to restrict playtime to just six hours a day in the country.
It would be natural to think that PUBG Mobile publisher Tencent Games is really in step with Indian culture, but a recent slip-up has angered a number of players in the country. The Chinese gaming company recently made a rudimentary mistake when it created an in-game item resembling the Kaaba, Islam’s most important shrine.
The item was part of a birthday crate PUBG Mobile introduced last week in celebration of the game’s one-year anniversary. The in-game gift basket ended up infuriating countless Muslim players, complicating the game’s popularity in India where about 15 percent of the population is Muslim.
In response, Muslim gamers took to social media, penning posts tagged with #boycottPUBG. Many players deleted the game, and some even signed petitions on Change.org requesting Tencent issue an apology. One of the campaigns managed to get more than 900 signatures.
After hundreds of angry posts, PUBG Mobile developers quickly took action, redesigning the birthday crate within a day. The company also tweeted an apology online.
While many are still livid at Tencent, some came around and commended the company for quickly addressing the issue.
Whether or not Tencent dodged this bullet, the company’s actions make clear it doesn’t want that kind of heat while India is already targeting PUBG Mobile as a threat to children’s health.
According to local media, four cities in Gujarat have banned PUBG Mobile because local lawmakers believe the game is too violent and distracting students from studying. This ban is no joke. A total of 21 people have already been arrested for it, according to PCMag India.
What’s more, a major Hindi newspaper recently declared PUBG an “epidemic” that turned children into psychopaths. “There are dangerous consequences to this game,” according to the Navbharat Times piece published March 20. “Many children have lost their mental balance.”
PUBG Mobile isn’t just facing the threat of bans in India, either. Indonesia has been considering banning the game nationwide. Some Malaysian opinion leaders have also been talking about banning PUBG Mobile in their country.
Reports of PUBG Mobile now testing a limit that locks players out after six hours could be a response to the continued threat of bans.
Acknowledging concerns about the game, the developer of the original PUBG, South Korea’s Bluehole, recently released a statement saying the company seeks “to be a responsible member of the gaming ecosystem.” It added, “To this end, we constantly work and shall continue to work with different stakeholders, including parents, educators and government bodies, and listening to their feedback on what we can do to enhance the overall PUBG Mobile experience.”