After a 10-month-long wait that left millions of Indian gamers eagerly waiting for good news, the popular battle royale game Garena Free Fire is all set to make a grand return to the Indian gaming scene.
Garena Free Fire was banned by the government of India over security concerns in February 2022.
The game will be reintroduced September 5 on as "Free Fire India", with a bunch of new features and safety measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience.
- Free Fire India, the new product, is designed to cater specifically to the Indian gaming market, say the creators.
- To promote safe, healthy, and fun gameplay, the game will incorporate various safety features, including a verification system for parental supervision (for minors), money-spending limits, "take a break" reminders and enhanced reporting mechanisms to ensure a balanced gaming experience.
Why was it banned in India though?
- Despite being developed by a Singapore-based company, it was categorised as a "security threat" and included in the list of banned apps by the Indian government.
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology signalled that apps like Garena Free Fire, although not Chinese in origin, were still perceived as a potential threat to India's security as they could potentially access critical permissions and collect sensitive user data, compromising the digital well-being of over 40 million Indian users.
How did they mend ways?
- To address the concerns, Garena has partnered with Mumbai-based Yotta, a Hiranandani Group company that is also a service provider with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
- Vaibhav Das Mundhra, Senior Manager and Game Producer at Garena, stated, "They are RBI-approved, so they are a company that we trust. With their help, we will make sure that the data of Indian users stays secure."
- "Yotta will provide local cloud hosting and storage infrastructure for Free Fire India," he added.
MS Dhoni on board as brand ambassador
- The news that has excited fans even more is MS Dhoni being named the brand ambassador for Free Fire India.
- Moreover, he is going to be featured as a playable character named 'Thala'.
- Commenting on this collaboration, Dhoni said, "I'm thrilled to be part of Free Fire India, and I can't wait to engage with the gaming community."
The return of Free Fire India comes at a time when esports has been on the up in India. Esports was officially recognised as a multi-sport event by the Indian government in December 2022, making way for more sponsorships and increased engagement.
The esports industry in India is on a rapid growth trajectory, with the number of esports players projected to reach 1.5 million by 2027, according to the State of Indian Gaming Report, 2022.