After over a year of ban, Garena‘s popular battle royale title Free Fire is set to re-launch a new game in India. The country-exclusive version will be called Free Fire India. This move seems to be following the footsteps of BGMI-developer Krafton, which released title exclusively for Indian audience.
The announcement came with promotional video featuring star cricketer MS Dhoni as the brand ambassador. Notably, a new MS Dhoni-inspired in-game playable character named Thala will be a part of the game. The video also features other popular sports personalities like Sunil Chhetri, Rahul Chaudhari, Leander Paes, and Saina Nehwal.
MS Dhoni is the ambassador for Free Fire India!!! pic.twitter.com/Cvp0kM2ZaZ
— letsgrowesports (@letsgrowesports) August 31, 2023
Ahead of the launch, Senior Manager and Game Producer at Garena, Vaibhav Das Mundhra, came forward to express his views. He said that Indian esports market has potential and Garena will try to capitalize the opportunity.
“Esports is something that has a lot of potential, especially in a country like India, where I think the market is still a little bit underserved,” Mundhra was saying as per Moneycontrol.
Meanwhile, Hiranandani Group’s Yotta will be providing local cloud hosting and storage infrastructure to Garena. It is understood that Yotta will also manage the information of Indian users and manage it on local servers.
Free Fire India will be available on Google Play Store and iOS App Store starting Tuesday, September 5.
Notably, Free Fire was banned last year along with several other apps that were sending data to Chinese servers. While the company did try to work with the government on the unban, the issue remained unresolved.
The changes to the Indian variant are similar to those of BGMI. These include limited gameplay along with a spending limit of Rs 6,000 for minors. The game will also include a verification system to enable parental supervision.
Focus on developing esports in India
As Garena’s popular title is set to re-enter India, co-founder Gang Ye told about company’s plans to sustain in the Indian market. According to Ye, the company’s focus is to develop the esports ecosystem in the country.
“India is home to very passionate communities of esports enthusiasts. The Free Fire India Esports Championships is our first step in building out our platform of esports events and activities in the coming months to empower Indian esports athletes to succeed globally,” Ye said.
In the same vein, Mundhra said, “Growing esports talent, grassroot talent will be the focus. Esports is taking off in India and it is the right time to promote esports in the country. India is a key market for Garena. We will continue to do more events and not just at global and national levels but at the grassroot level.”