If you’ve been around video games for some time, you’ve undoubtedly heard about PUBG Mobile and its popularity. You might not know where the game started from and how it got to where it is now. Lucky for you, we’re here to tell you all about it.
What is PUBG Mobile?
PUBG Mobile is the free-to-play version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a battle royale game initially released on PC back in 2016. The game was massively popular, with an all-time player peak of over 3 million.
Seeing the success of PUBG, Chinese game developer Tencent decided to take the idea and bring it to mobile as a free-to-play game in 2018. The game was released for users in the US and 122 other regions simultaneously for both Android and iOS. The simultaneous release allowed for players on either platform to enjoy the game simultaneously, which led to its massive success.
How did the game get to this point?
PUBG’s success was mostly due to the growing interesting in battle royale games at the time. Fortnite did not come out until 2017, so PUBG competed with H1Z1, a game whose popularity was already waning by 2016. The game’s popularity was largely unexpected by the developers, who didn’t expect to be as popular as it was right off the bat.
Given the popularity of mobile games in the Asian market, it only made sense that Tencent could take the mobile port of PUBG under their wing and develop it into what it is now. Making it, free-to-play meant that all the players who couldn’t afford it on PC could enjoy nearly the same experience the PC version offered on their phone.
Frequent updates that added new content like new modes and weapons, like the most recent Patch 1.2, kept the game fresh for both new and veteran players. That treatment led to PUBG Mobile making over $177 million in revenue in December of 2020. Attesting to the popularity of mobile games in Asian countries, 56 percent of the total money made by PUBG Mobile came from China, where the game goes by the name of Peacekeeper Elite.
What features led to its continued success?
Since the game is free-to-play, PUBG Mobile makes its money from ads and in-game purchases. What sets it apart from other games with ads and in-game purchases is that the ads are not intrusive, and the in-game purchases are not mandatory.
The ads that Tencent sells to partners usually pop up as banners when a player starts the game, and that’s it. In other free-to-play games, they are more frequent and way more disruptive, usually popping up after every game. Think about those “Guess the Logo” games where ads are in your face every other minute.
The in-game items are also simply cosmetic, and you can enjoy the game without spending a single dollar. People buy them simply because they look nice and they want to play the game while admiring their nice items. This same system is present with Fortnite’s battle passes; the items purchased add no extra experience to the game, but they just look nice. Providing players with a fun core experience that doesn’t force them to pay to win means they are much more likely to pay for premium content because they enjoy the game.
Could we see repeat growth for future months?
Unless another similar game comes out and takes the throne, PUBG Mobile’s success in Asian counties could continue to rise. It’s unlikely it will see that same success in Western countries, however, as the mobile gaming market is simply overtaken by the PC and console market.
The fact that a game has not come that can compete with PUBG Mobile, even three years later, shows that Tencent is doing something right. Much like Fortnite has done on PC, PUBG Mobile has cornered the mobile battle royale market, and it doesn’t look like it will leave anytime soon.