Market Insight

Tencent suspends PUBG Mobile: Exhilarating Battlefield in China and launches a replacement

May 07, 2019

Chenyu Cui Chenyu Cui Senior Research Analyst, Games

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The developer of PUBG Mobile: Exhilarating Battlefield – Tencent Guangzi Studio - has confirmed that it will suspend operation of the game in mainland China and that its new in-house developed game, Game for Peace will be launched instead. Players can update PUBG Mobile app directly to access the new game or download it from app stores.

This news came as a surprise and players suffered server disconnection from PUBG Mobile without any notice. Game for Peace achieved ISBN in early April and was marked as an anti-terrorism and military game. At that time, with a lack of testing information, no details of this game were disclosed. And from the feedback of small scale testing this morning, Game for Peace features very similar UI, maps, and gameplay to PUBG Mobile. What is more important is that user data including level, coins, costumes, etc in PUBG Mobile will be fully migrated to the new game. The major difference is that Game for Peace launches in-game store to trigger in-game spending.

Although the authorities started reissuing ISBN numbers last December, PUBG Mobile still faced a hurdle to receive approval based on its well-known gameplay. This lack of monetisation lowered Tencent’s games margin considering the cost of marketing the game. While Tencent's international revenue has grown due to PUBG Mobile this incremental benefit has not matched the missed opportunity of not being able to monetise the game in China.

Game for Peace is a silver lining for Tencent in the battle royale genre. The full user data migration lowers the entry barrier and maximizes the user retention from PUBG Mobile to Game for Peace. And the timing of launch guarantees great exposure of the game and sparks curiosity of new gamers as well, which could boost registrations and active users initially.

Tencent has supposedly improved the graphical quality and gameplay to offer a better experience, which also suggests the potential for large scale esports events in the future. The in-game store offers diverse items including skins, weapons, parachutes etc, indicating Tencent’s desire to accelerate monetization of the game. If Tencent applies similar monetization strategy of Honor of Kings (Arena of Valor) to add loot boxes to the game, this game is likely to become a major growth driver for Tencent in 2019.

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