Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said they had unblocked popular online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) hours after a top police official said it was blocked.
Minister Jabbar told this correspondent over the phone at 10:10pm that the block was lifted after the matter was reviewed. He, however, did not go into details on why they changed their stance.
Around 3:00pm, Najmul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of DMP’s cyber security division, said police had requested the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to block the game.
“We have observed the adverse effects on the children’s psychosocial behaviour due to the game. It also eats up their study time. We have received several complaints from the citizens and based on these and we suggested the BTRC to block it,” Najmul had told The Daily Star.
He, however, admitted that they had not done any research or consulted any expert before determining the game’s “psychosocial impact”. He also could not say how many active PUBG players Bangladesh had.
The police official said they suggested the move after receiving many complaints from citizens, triggered by the “violent” and “addictive” nature of the game.
“There is no other intention of the government,” Najmul said.
After the minister’s announcement of the unblocking, Najmul then posted a status on his Facebook to confirm the development.
Meanwhile, PUBG player communities in Bangladesh have complained of facing problems in playing the game since the start of October. They claimed that the BTRC had already blocked the gaming servers, before the official announcement to do so.
PUBG is a hugely popular, online multiplayer shooting game that has been topping the charts in countries around the world, including Bangladesh.
In the survival-themed version of the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge it for weapons and equipment to ensure their survival. Players have to kill others to survive or to avoid being killed themselves. The last player or team standing wins the round.
Bluehole, PUBG’s South Korean developer, first released the game for PCs and Microsoft’s Xbox One console in 2017.
In 2018, when Chinese internet giant Tencent published the game as a free-to-play title on smartphones, PUBG exploded around the world becoming one of the best-selling and most-played video games of all time, selling over 50 million copies worldwide by June 2018, with over 400 million players in total when including the mobile version.
It had a peak of over 660 thousand concurrent players globally in the last recorded month, September 2019. The highest number of concurrent players was recorded in January 2018 at 3.24 million, according to statista.com.
Video games have always generated a lot of controversy. Best-selling titles like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and Mortal Kombat have provoked outrage in some quarters and even been banned in multiple countries around the world.