South Korean gaming major PUBG Corp, which is a unit of Bluehole Games is now in talks with Reliance Jio to win it over as a prospective publisher and distributor in India as the immensely popular multiplayer game currently reels under a blanket ban from the Indian markets. Talks between Jio and PUBG are said to have reached a stage where when revenue sharing and localization have been discussed between the two sides. If PUBG is able to land Jio as a publishing partner in India, Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Industries would emerge as perhaps the one of the only business hegemon in the world whose prospects the COVID-19 pandemic has failed to shake even by an inch.
PUBG is said to be looking at the Indian market with a long-term view. “The talks are in an early stage, which began just after the government’s second round of bans. Officials from both the sides are working out the contours of how to structure various aspects of the deal,” according to a source quoted by Hindu’s BusinessLine. Another source added that matters pertaining to revenue share as well as localisation are being discussed. “Legal experts from both sides are exploring possibilities on how revenues should be split, whether it would be 50:50 or Jio guaranteeing PUBG revenues based on a fixed number of users every month.”
The deliberations with Jio and other prospective Indian partners have been necessitated as the Indian government banned the game, among 117 other apps, for having explicit Chinese links and being a threat to India’s national security. Tencent, which was the game’s former publisher in India, was a Chinese tech and gaming major. Subsequent to the ban, PUBG Corp ended its ties with Tencent, and took upon itself the responsibility of publishing the game in the country, committing itself to data localization within the borders of India.
Reliance Jio is more than capable of being a gaming publisher, and securing a partnership with PUBG Corp will be among the many feathers in the hat which Mukesh Ambani has won over the past few months, as the country entered and exited the world’s most stringent COVID-19 related lockdown. By the month of May itself, Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, had lured more than $10 billion of investment for his India-based digital platform business. This included deals with Facebook Inc, Silver Lake and General Atlantic.
It is yet to be seen if the government of India agrees to lift the ban imposed upon PUBG if it secures an Indian publishing and distribution partner in the form of Reliance Jio.