Free Fire’s return to India remains unclear, says Sea CEO

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There is continued uncertainty over the relaunch of the battle royale game Free Fire in India. During the earnings call on May 14, Sea’s CEO and founder, Forrest Li, did not provide a clear timeline for the game’s return, reported Inc42.

Li stated that the company is actively working with all stakeholders, including regulators and potential local partners, to decide the best plan for re-launching Free Fire in India. He mentioned that a successful relaunch could bring potential in terms of users and bookings, given the size of the Indian market.

Li said, “For Free Fire’s relaunch in India, we are actively working with all stakeholders, including regulators and potential local partners, to figure out the best plan. If that is successful, I think that will be a meaningful potential upside in terms of the users and the bookings, considering India is a very, very big market.”

This statement comes eight months after the initial tease of Garena Free Fire India’s relaunch in September last year. The plans were reportedly postponed to refine gameplay and comply with localisation policies in the country. However, there is still no clarity on when the game will return.

Last month, reports indicated that developer Garena collaborated with Yotta Data Services to deploy a new server for higher throughput and lower redundancy. The company is said to be actively testing performance ahead of a potential launch.

The uncertainty is due to the Indian government banning 54 apps two years ago, including Free Fire, for links with Chinese entities in February 2022. Free Fire was an app in the list, disappearing from app stores and being blocked by internet service providers.

The ban resulted in a loss of over $16 billion in Sea’s market capitalisation on the Singapore stock exchange. In response to security concerns, the gaming company assured Indian authorities that it would localize the server and make the game exclusive to India. To facilitate this, Sea partnered with Hiranandani Group-backed Yotta for local cloud hosting and storage infrastructure for the game.