PUBG Mobile is not only the most popular mobile game in the world, with more than 100 million monthly players, it’s now also the top grossing: collecting more than $146 million last month in revenue according to analyst figures reported by The Financial Times.
The money comes not only from items and skins bought by players in PUBG Mobile (which was adapted from the South Korean PC original by Chinese tech giant Tencent), but also from money spent in the game’s China-only rebrand, Game For Peace.
According to estimates from Chinese brokerage Great Wall Securities, PUBG Mobile generated $76 million in revenue last month while Game For Peace generated $70 million.
The latter title was published in May by Tencent after Chinese government regulators rejected PUBG Mobile for monetization. Game For Peace is essentially a skinned version of PUBG Mobile with a patriotic setting and less bloodshed. Instead of dying in a pool of blood when eliminated from the game, for example, players get up and wave goodbye.
They changed PUBG Mobile in China to comply with stricter game violence laws. Now when you ‘kill’ someone they give you a loot box and wave goodbye and honestly it’s just so hilariously wholesome pic.twitter.com/Q5xkrtM0MA
— Svend Joscelyne @ E3 2019 (@SvendJoscelyne) May 8, 2019
These changes illustrate the difficulties facing gaming companies in China, where the government has cracked down on titles it sees as anti-social or corrupting.
In February, the government regulator stopped approving new licenses for video games altogether, while existing titles have had to be rewritten or incorporate time limits. In 2017, for example, Tencent’s last smash hit mobile game, the fantasy MOBA Honor of Kings, limited children under 12 to one hour of daily play, and children aged 12 to 18 to two hours.
Analysts have worried that these restrictions will crimp revenue for companies like Tencent, particularly with its rebrand of Game For Peace. But these latest figures suggest the company has managed to retain its audience. The $146 million combined monthly revenue of Game for Peace and PUBG Mobile now exceeds the $125 million collected by Honor of Kings over that same period.