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India bans Free Fire and 53 other apps linked to China

Garena Free Fire
Garena Free Fire (Image credit: Garena International I)

What you need to know

  • The Indian government has banned 54 more apps of Chinese origin.
  • Some of the newly banned apps include Garena's Free Fire, Tencent's Xriver, AppLock, and Astracraft.
  • Many of these apps are rebadged versions of apps that were banned by India in 2020.

India on February 14 banned Garena's Free Fire: Illuminate and 53 more apps of Chinese origin that apparently pose a threat to the country's national security.

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Free Fire is among the most popular Android games in the world currently. The game is owned by Singapore-based Sea Ltd., which is backed by China's Tencent. Last month, the WeChat creator cut its stake in Sea from 21.3% to 18.7%. However, it still remains the largest shareholder of Sea Ltd.

As per data from App Annie, Free Fire was the highest-grossing mobile game in India during the third quarter of 2021. It was also the most-downloaded game globally in December 2021.

Some of the other apps that have been pulled from the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store on the Indian government's request include AppLock, Beauty Camera, Sweet Selfie HD, Tencent's Xriver, Astracraft, and Dual Space Lite. Many of these apps are cloned or rebadged versions of apps that India had banned in mid-2020.

India banned TikTok, WeChat, and 57 other apps of Chinese origin in June 2020, following clashes at the India-China border in the Galwan Valley. Just a few weeks later, India banned PUBG, Baidu, and 116 other apps with links to China.

Shortly after the ban was announced, Krafton severed ties with Tencent Games and announced plans of relaunching the game in the country. In June last year, the game finally returned to India as Battlegrounds Mobile India, offering new features designed specifically for Indian gamers.

Babu Mohan
News Writer