Tech giant Sea, which is backed by China’s Tencent, has apologized to users in India after the popular Free Fire game was reportedly slammed among dozens of apps banning national security concerns. It was the final salvo between New Delhi and Beijing, with tensions running high between the two. Free Fire, one of the most downloaded mobile games in India, was one of 54 Chinese apps banned and said to be of Chinese origin, according to several local media outlets. Tencent and Baidu apps were also among those affected, the reports said.
New Delhi has previously banned more than 260 Chinese apps over national security concerns, including video-sharing platform TikTok and the popular game PUBG. Garena, the gaming subsidiary of Sea, the Singapore-based company, has not confirmed a ban, but said in a statement it was “aware that Free Fire is not currently available on the Google Play and iOS app stores in India and that the game is currently not usable for some users in the country”.
“We are working to address this situation and we apologize to our users for any inconvenience caused.”
Indian authorities were not immediately available for comment.
But the IT ministry told the Hindustan Times newspaper that the apps collected sensitive data, which was “sent to servers in (a) hostile country” and could be used “for activities harmful to national security”.
The founders of Sea were born in China and became Singaporean citizens.
Chinese tech giant Tencent has an 18.7 percent stake in the company.
Free Fire is an action-adventure game in which players jump onto an island with a parachute and then search for weapons and equipment to kill other participants.