PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has been at the center of a number of controversies, and the latest is one of the most severe yet.
According to multiple reports, the popular battle royale title has been made illegal in Nepal. The country’s Metropolitan Crime Division has called for a ban on the game, with an emphasis of getting rid of its mobile port. Additionally, the Nepal Telecommunication Authority has been working to block players’ access to the game.
When asked for clarification on the ban by Reuters, NTA director Sandip Adhikari acknowledged move.
“We have ordered the ban on PUBG because it is addictive to children and teenagers,” Adhikari said.
Made by South Korean publisher Bluehole, Inc., PUBG launched in 2017 and achieved major success in the west. But that success was dwarfed by its popularity closer to home where the game was a legitimate phenomenon, with hundreds of millions playing.
Unfortunately, gamers have seen many times over the years that mainstream success is often coupled with pushback from the uninitiated. In the same way that games like Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, and Farmville have been labeled as addictive or a bad influence in North America and Europe, PUBG has been blamed for a number of ills in the eastern hemisphere.
The game was criticised heavily in China in October 2017, but was ultimately published a month later. In March, PUBG was railed against in India when it was blamed for a number of deaths. Two men died after being struck by a train while playing the game, when they wandered onto the tracks. Not long after, the game was blamed for the death of a 20-year-old player, though medical professionals stated that PUBG was in no way responsible for the man’s death.
PUBG isn’t the only battle royale that has come under fire in recent weeks. Earlier this month, British royal Prince Harry leveled heavy criticism towards Fortnite and stated that the game “shouldn’t be allowed.” He did not formally call for government action against the game, but his words put a magnifying glass on Fortnite at a time when video games are being subjected to an inquiry by England’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Though numerous studies have shown no link between violent video games and aggression in youths and prominent medical organizations like the American Psychiatric Association have refused to acknowledge video game addiction as a recognized mental disorder, these accusations crop up often when a video game achieves a certain level of popularity.
The Nepalese ban on the game likely won’t heavily impact PUBG, but this is one of the largest cases of government action against a video game in history. If other nations follow suit, it could be a serious issue problem for publishers.