Garena Free Fire returns as Free Fire India with MS Dhoni as ambassador. Why was it banned?

DailyBiteSep 01, 2023 | 14:35

Garena Free Fire returns as Free Fire India with MS Dhoni as ambassador. Why was it banned?

The Indian esports industry's revenue increased from Rs 1,000 crore in 2021 to Rs 1,100 crore in 2022. Photo: Free Fire India/DailyO

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.

A comeback

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.


New features

  • 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.

Last updated: September 01, 2023 | 14:35
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