Sensor Tower reports that PUBG mobile continues to break records both in terms of popularity as well as revenue, with 1 billion downloads, now over 5 billion USD in lifetime revenue, and an average of nearly 7.5 million USD per day in 2020. The achievement is even greater considering the fact that the game has been banned in a number of countries, and the Chinese version had to be released under a different title (Game For Peace) with certain changes to meet China’s strict policies.
This is not the first time PUBG mobile takes first place on the podium. The title already became the highest-grossing mobile game on a global scale in 2019, just one year after its release. The game is based on a free-to-play model, and the stunning milestone of 5 billion USD in revenue comes from player purchases of in-game currency that can be spent on crates with weapon customizations and character upgrades. In 2020 alone, the game accumulated $2.7 billion. To put this in perspective, this is the exact same predicted cost of NASA’s Perseverance mission that recently took the space agency’s newest rover and helicopter drone to Mars. Let that sink in. Together with the Game For Peace, which is the name of the slightly altered version released for the Chinese market, PUBG Mobile generated about $7.4 million per day in 2020. No wonder the publisher wanted to reintroduce PUBG to the Chinese market in some shape or form as most of the revenue comes from that country. According to Sensor Tower, Game For Peace constitutes 55.4% of total revenue on iOS. The second country in terms of player spending is the USA, with 12.7%, and the third one is Japan with 4.8%. Both inside and outside China, most of the revenue came from the App Store, not from Google Play. It is safe to say that Apple greatly benefited from the sales, with their 30% commission on all paid apps and in-app purchases.
Booming despite the bans
We already mentioned that the developers had to introduce some changes to PUGB to be allowed to publish the game in China, under the name Game For Peace. The most striking change is the use of light effects instead of blood splatter and the replacement of death animations with players waving goodbye after losing all their HP. The game’s story has been changed and now includes some Chinese patriotic content. Some minor changes to gameplay are also present, along with a new premium currency. In India, the game has been permanently banned due to security concerns. Pakistani authorities attempted to ban the game basing on arguments that it is too addictive and may be detrimental to children’s physical and mental health, but lifted the ban after the Islamabad High Court received several petitions defending the title. The authorities in Afghanistan banned the game after conducting a research among ministers, psychologists, parents, school headmasters and cybersecurity experts that pointed to the game’s negative impact on social and security issues. The ban is considered temporary until a permanent solution is found. PUBG was also banned in Nepal, but the restrictions were eventually lifted after lawyers filed multiple petitions in the supreme court I tof Nepal arguing the ban was unconstitutional.
Tencent is dominating the mobile market as another one of its games was the top grossing title in January 2021 – Honor of Kings. While PUBG Mobile and HoK continue their struggle for the title of the most profitable mobile game each month, the competition, left far behind, can only dream about joining the fight for the crown.