Garena's Free Fire India will launch on September 5
Garena also unveiled Indian cricket icon MS Dhoni as the new brand ambassador for Free Fire India. He will feature in the game as a playable character called "Thala."
Garena, a Singapore-based online game developer and publisher, on Thursday announced the return of Free Fire, a popular Battle Royale game, to India on September 5. The government had banned the game in February last year in a wider crackdown on apps with links to China due to security concerns.
According to Garena, Yotta—a Hiranandani Group company—will provide local cloud hosting and storage infrastructure for Free Fire India. It will also support Garena's product offerings, including parental supervision, gameplay restrictions, and reminders for players to take breaks features.
The game developer has also unveiled former Indian captain MS Dhoni as the new brand ambassador for the game. Dhoni will feature in the game as a playable character called "Thala."
He will be joined by other prominent sportspersons like Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri, badminton champion Saina Nehwal, tennis star Leander Paes, and kabbadi champion Rahul Chaudhari, the company said.
Before its ban in India, Free Fire was the world's most downloaded mobile game in January 2022 with 24 million downloads—a 51.6% increase from January 2021, as per data from Sensor Tower, an internet economy research and consultancy firm.
During the launch event, Garena also announced the Free Fire India Championship (FFIC), following an MoU with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to boost esports in the country. FFIC will open to teams nationwide, with winners representing India at the Free Fire World Series in Thailand this November.
In May, BGMI (Battlegrounds Mobile India), a popular battle royale game, made a comeback after the government banned it in July 2022 under Section 69A of the IT Act 2000.
The game received a three-month trial approval, contingent upon meeting server location and data security requirements. Authorities had stressed the necessity for ongoing monitoring of potential user harm and addiction issues during this trial period before arriving at a final decision.
Edited by Suman Singh