PUBG Mobile testing health reminders and 6-hour daily limit in India
PUBG Mobile fever has gripped India really hard, as the game has reached massive popularity in the country, especially in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Adolescents and young adults are “addicted” to the game, often spending many hours over their phone trying to “kill” other virtual players, neglecting their studies and other worldly duties. While I personally do not see this as any different from wasting time away through more “traditional” ways like a TV or a casual sport, the authorities in India see it differently, to the extent that the game has been banned in certain cities in India, specifically in Gujarat. In fact, as many as 21 students were arrested for playing the game (and were given bail immediately, since the offences they were being booked under are bailable), thereby equating playing a game with an actual, illegal offence.
Tencent, obviously, was surprised at the ban, and issued a statement to that effect:
PUBG Mobile is a game. It is meant merely for entertainment and should be enjoyed in a healthy and responsible manner. In consonance with our endeavour to continue promoting responsible gaming experience, we are working on the introduction of a healthy gameplay system in India to promote balanced, responsible gaming, including limiting play time for under-aged players. We were thus surprised to learn that local authorities in a few cities have decided to impose a ban on playing our game. We are working to understand the legal basis of such bans, and hope we can have a constructive dialogue with relevant authorities to explain our objectives and that they withdraw the prohibition. To PUBG Mobile players, we want to assure you that we are on your side and we will try our best to find a reasonable solution.
In the latest development in the PUBG Mobile ban saga, Tencent is testing out nag screens with health reminders if players play the game for more than 2 hours, and then again at 4 hours. If you keep playing for 6 hours in a stretch, the game kicks you out and locks gameplay till the next day (i.e. at 00:00 UTC; IST is +0530, so this translates into 5.30 am the next day).
Health remainder on @PUBGMOBILE . One of my friend played it for 6 hours it seems an . #PUBG To the next level. @Im_Rahul16 Take care of your health daww.. 🤣😂 ¼ part of day well spent with @PUBG pic.twitter.com/6nOUTrvglh
— Srihari Lakshminarasimhan (@Srihari_lsr) March 21, 2019
Arresting students over a game is an overreaction in my personal opinion, as it will then further make it difficult for these students to get good jobs (as they now have been booked for an offence, which will pop up in background searches by any prospective employer). Constructive discussions with the playerbase, developer, and other stakeholders should have been the first step in the whole process. It remains to be seen if imposing a time limit would be enough to overturn the ban.