PUBG Mobile really has been through the wringer in India: its popularity in the country led to concerns that children were spending too long playing the game, and several Indian cities placed bans on the game in 2019 after blaming it for promoting violent behaviour. Then, in 2020, PUBG Mobile was banned across the entire country following increased tensions between China and India. As the game was published by Chinese company Tencent, PUBG Mobile was included in the list of 118 apps banned in India over security concerns.
But it seems PUBG Corp wasn’t quite ready to give up, and a new version of the game is already seeing massive success.
Battlegrounds Mobile India is the new (but still not particularly catchy) name of PUBG Mobile in India, and it’s off to a roaring start. The game launched on 2nd July, and now has 34 million registered players, 16m daily active users, and a peak concurrent player count of 2.4 million. And apparently it’s not even on the Apple App Store yet (via Times of India).
To put this in context, the highest number of Steam concurrents for the PC version of PUBG over the last 30 days was 413,000 (via Steam Charts). It’s worth noting, however, that PUBG once hit 3.2 million concurrent players on Steam back in 2018, so Battlegrounds Mobile India still has a little way to go before topping that. As for PUBG Mobile more generally, in 2019 the game reached 400m total downloads worldwide, and at the time had 50 million daily active users outside of China (via GamesIndustry.biz).
The reason that this version of PUBG Mobile has not faced a ban is because PUBG Corp ended its partnership with Tencent in order to get the new version published. PUBG Corp established a new company called PUBG India Private Limited in order to launch Battlegrounds Mobile India, and so far this plan seems to be going smoothly (via Times of India).
Speaking to TechCrunch, IGN India editor Rishi Alwani said the rebranded version of PUBG Mobile is “essentially PUBG Mobile with data compliance, green blood, and a constant reminder that you’re in a ‘virtual world’ with such messaging present as you start a game and when you’re in menus”. So it seems some adjustments have been made in response to previous accusations that PUBG Mobile was encouraging real-world violence.
PUBG Corp seems to have plenty more PUBG-universe releases on the horizon: there’s Deadspace spiritual successor The Callisto Protocol, for instance, along with upcoming PUBG Mobile sequel New State (which already looks like it will be pretty popular). Oh, and the original PUBG game just received a new map and a Gulag-style second chance system. It’s all happening.