Battle royale shooters Fortnite and Apex Legends may have surpassed PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in some ways, but PUBG is back in the headlines for a controversial new reason: some governments are outright banning the game.
Last month, we heard how police in India arrested ten college students for playing PUBG after some cities in Gujarat, India restricted the title, and now an entire nation has done the same. Nepal has directed every ISP and mobile operator to ban the game, according to The Kathmandu Post, The Himalayan Times, and Reuters. According to the Post, Nepal is also prepared to arrest players now that the game has been banned.
Update: Nepal’s Supreme Court decided to halt the ban on April 19th, mere days after it was announced. Original story follows:
“We have decided to ban the game before anything unfortunate occurs in Nepal”
As you might guess, Nepal is citing the typical beliefs why such a video game should be restricted, including concerns about addiction and aggression — even though experts are often skeptical about the idea of video game addiction, and studies that have tried to investigate a link between video games and aggression have largely been inconclusive.
That didn’t stop Nepal’s Metropolitan Crime Division from pushing a ban through the courts in a single day, saying it had consulted with psychiatrists who do believe in the aggression theory, and pointing out that other countries had banned PUBG as well. “We have decided to ban the game before anything unfortunate occurs in Nepal,” Dhiraj Pratap Singh, chief of the Metropolitan Crime Division, told the Post.
But that bit about other countries banning PUBG isn’t exactly true. Though China was widely reported to have banned PUBG, it’s actually that the game wasn’t approved to begin with in the country — Chinese censors had stopped approving new video game releases, which meant Tencent couldn’t monetize the title, even though people were already playing the game without in-app purchases.
In fact, Tencent added a China-only age gate to PUBG Mobile just last month to appease those censors. And though a few cities in India did indeed ban the game, at least one of them has apparently already lifted that ban. Notably, Nepal also banned porn last October.
We’ve reached out to PUBG Corp to see if it has any comment on the game earning a country-wide ban.