Beyond PUBG: 8 popular non-Chinese gaming apps to ease lockdown woes
The Indian government’s ban on 59 Chinese apps last week left social media users curious about PUBG, the viral action game.
Why was it not banned when it is a Chinese app?
Truth be told, PUBG (short for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds) was developed in 2017 by South Korea’s Bluehole, which continues to own the desktop and console versions of the game.
In 2018, China’s Tencent Games bought a 10 percent stake in Bluehole, and as a part of a licensing agreement, they built a mobile version of the game for publishing in China.
PUBG Mobile was later distributed in India, which now accounts for 24 percent of the game’s all-time downloads, according to Sensor Tower. Even though PUBG escaped the first crackdown on Chinese apps, its future could very well be uncertain given the growing anti-China sentiment in the country.
But PUBG is not the be-all and end-all of mobile gaming.
India has an estimated 628 million gamers, who are wooed by hundreds of developers with attractive gaming titles. The online gaming sector is projected to cross $1 billion in revenues this year, according to Statista.
Here are some popular non-Chinese gaming apps that you could turn to. From action to strategy to board games to poker, we have you covered.
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of Duty, a multiplayer action game and PUBG equivalent, was launched as a mobile app in September 2019 after gaining immense popularity on PCs. Google Play Store recognised it as the Best Gaming App of 2019, which “pushed the boundaries of what we expect on mobile”.
Call of Duty: Mobile brings in console-quality HD gaming on the smartphone with customisable controls, voice and text chat, and thrilling 3D graphics and sound across complexity levels. In just 10 months, the app has crossed 100 million downloads, with India contributing 15 percent, as per Sensor Tower.
Users can squad up with friends in five PvP (player-versus-player) multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch, Frontline, Free For All, Search and Destroy, and Domination. They can also engage in 100-person battle royales, unlock scores of famous characters, weapons, outfits, scorestreaks, and pieces of gear.
Ludo King has consistently ranked among the top 10 downloaded apps in India across gaming and non-gaming categories. App downloads have surged past 300 million across Android and iOS, and users have tripled since the lockdown.
The homegrown casual board game topped popular titles like Candy Crush Saga, PUBG, Clash of Clans, Subway Surfers, and others in monthly active users.
Ludo King adds a modern touch to the royal game of Pachisi, which used to be played between Indian kings and queens in ancient times. There are four player modes — online multiplayer, play with friends, play versus computer, local multiplayer. There is a six-player Ludo board too.
The app also comes with ‘Snakes and Ladders’ on seven different game board variations. Other interactive features include live chat with players, Facebook challenges for friends in a private game room, save game option (which allows players to resume from where they left), player statistics, and leaderboards.
Fortnite’s popularity in India surged after it launched on Android in April. Even though it isn’t as popular as PUBG Mobile, the app has crossed five million downloads on Google Play Store in just three months.
Fortnite has 350 million registered users across Android, iOS, PS4, PC, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, and is one of the top free-to-play battle royale games of all time. In Fortnite, players collaborate to fight off zombie-like creatures and build their own battlefield cover.
The game offers three modes: single-player, co-operative mode (played with friends), and a free-to-play multiplayer format known as Fortnite Battle Royale. This allows 100 players to enter the game at a time, and compete either individually or as four-person squads.
Teen Patti (also known as Indian poker) is a traditional card game, which has charmed casual gamers across the world. There are several Teen Patti versions on Google Play Store, but Teen Patti by Octro is the most popular one with more than 50 million downloads.
The game offers multiple modes such as Chatai, Pro Mode, 6 Patti, Public Tables, Private Tables, Variations, etc. Players can save their winnings in the Gullak, earn daily bonuses, and even convert currencies (from Diamonds to Chips). Teen Patti is available in English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi.
The app just simulates the game with virtual currency, and is not related to gambling activities. Teen Patti is also one of the top-grossing games in India.
In 2019, Subway Surfers edged past Candy Crush Saga as the most downloaded free game of the decade. This was largely driven by its strong adoption in India, which accounted for 15 percent of its all-time downloads, App Annie states.
Subway Surfers is an engaging runner game where players have to help Jake, the central character, and his sprinting friends escape a grumpy security guard to grab a pots of gold without being hit by parked subway cars and moving subway trains. They can dash on stylish hoverboards from side to side, jump, duck, and collect coins.
The app has crossed one billion installs on Google Play Store, and 2.5 billion downloads cumulatively. Subway Surfers’ vivid HD-quality graphics and pace have addicted players across age groups from all over the world.
Gardenscapes is one of Google Play’s Editor’s Choice gaming apps with more than 100 million downloads.
It is a quintessential match-3 game, where players restore and decorate an old garden by swapping and switching elements like broken fountains, mysterious mazes, old mansions, hidden gems, etc. They can also befriend hundreds of amusing characters, including a butler and a dog, who’re the players’ forever companions.
Gardenscapes also lets you connect with other players through an in-game social network. It is a free game, but users can purchase in-game items with real money.
Coin Master is a popular strategy game where players can earn coins by building villages across difficulty levels.
They can also defeat other villages through attacks, spins, and raids to steal their loot. The player with the strongest village and the maximum loot becomes the Coin Master. The game also has an active Facebook community from which players can get and exchange in-game rewards, cards, and other treasures.
Coin Master has crossed 100 million downloads on Google Play Store, and is the highest-grossing gaming app in India right now.
Carrom Pool is a multi-player casual board game that is topping charts in India. It is the #1 free game on Google Play Store as well as one of the top five gaming apps overall, with more than 100 million downloads.
The app recreates the carrom boards of yore with simple gameplay, smooth controls, realistic physics, and arresting graphics. Players can customise their pieces by unlocking a wide range of strikers and pucks. Carrom Pool also offers offline gameplay.
Players can compete with their friends or in beautifully designed global arenas. They also stand to win free victory chests and other big rewards.