Chinese internet giant Tencent pulls blockbuster video game PUBG before launching a ‘patriotic’ alternative
- The Chinese tech and games giant today shut down its test version of PUBG
- Instead it asked users to download Game for Peace, a similar multi-player game
- The move indicated that Tencent failed to win approval from Chinese authorities
- Users in new game found themselves starting from where they left off in PUBG
Chinese tech and games giant Tencent on Wednesday scrapped the hugely popular video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds after failing to get regulatory approval.
In a post on the game’s official account on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, Tencent said it would end its test version of the multi-player combat game.
It instead directed users to download Game for Peace – a similar, ‘more patriotic’ multi-player battle game with an anti-terrorism theme.
Chinese tech and games giant Tencent on Wednesday scrapped its hugely popular video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (above) after failing to get regulatory approval
Tencent instead directed users to download Game for Peace (above) – a similar, ‘more patriotic’ new multiplayer battle game with an anti-terrorism theme
Often likened to the blockbuster book and film series The Hunger Games, PUBG pits marooned characters against one another in a virtual fight to the death, and has become one of the world’s most popular mobile games.
Tencent had been offering a mobile version of PUBG Mobile – which is published by a subsidiary of South Korean firm Bluehole – for about a year.
In a website statement, Tencent described Game for Peace as a tactical shooting game developed in-house which ‘pays tribute to the blue sky warriors that guard our country’s airspace’, in reference to the Chinese air force.
The new game gained regulatory approval to generate revenue in April. A separate Tencent posting said the game’s designers sought advice from China’s air force in developing the game, which may have helped it to win approval.
Often likened to the blockbuster book and film series The Hunger Games, PUBG pits marooned characters against one another in a virtual fight to the death
Tencent had been offering a mobile version of PUBG Mobile – which is published by a subsidiary of South Korean firm Bluehole – for about a year
The Chinese video gaming leader has waited in vain for over a year for approval to earn money on PUBG via in-app purchases, having given the gory game a socialist makeover to meet stringent government rules.
‘With PUBG Mobile having around 70 million average daily active users in China now, we expect Game for Peace could potentially generate 8 billion yuan to 10 billion yuan (£907 million to £1.1 billion) in annual revenue’, said analysts at China Renaissance.
IHS Markit games analyst Cui Chenyu said user reviews indicated that Game for Peace was very similar to PUBG, a PC game from South Korea’s Krafton, previously known as Bluehole. Tencent licensed PUBG in China and created a mobile version.
‘It’s almost exactly the same,’ she said. ‘The game play, the background, the graphic design and the characters, they’re almost the same.’
Some Weibo users said on starting Game for Peace, they found themselves at a place in the game that strongly resembled the place they left off in PUBG, complete with PUBG gaming history.
Weibo users said on starting Game for Peace, they found themselves at a place in the game that strongly resembled the place they left off in PUBG, complete with PUBG gaming history
Tencent told Reuters ‘they are very different genres of games’.
A spokeswoman for Krafton said the firm was looking into PUBG’s status in China and declined to comment further.
Global game distributor Steam named PUBG one of its highest-grossing titles of 2018. On Wednesday, ‘PUBG is gone’ was the one of most viewed topics on Weibo, with over 300 million clicks and close to 90,000 posts.
‘I was scared to death,’ said one Weibo user of his feelings when he realised that PUBG had been shut down in China, explaining he had spent many nights to reach a certain level.
‘But I didn’t expect that once I updated it to Game of Peace it returned me back to the same level. The game changed its name and became very socialist to gain approval.’
Others commented on the absence of gore, which regulators have all but outlawed in new titles following a public outcry over perceived excess in video games.
‘I’m going to die of laughter,’ said another Weibo user. ‘When you shoot people, they don’t bleed, and the dead get up and wave goodbye!’
Tencent has been rattled by a Chinese government crackdown on gaming launched last year that has choked off game approvals
Tencent has been rattled by a Chinese government crackdown on gaming launched last year that has choked off game approvals.
Smartphone-based gaming has surged in popularity in China, particularly violent multi-player titles like Honor of Kings, making China the game industry’s biggest market.
But official concerns over gaming addiction prompted the government last year to impose new controls such as limiting the number of new releases, and safeguards that reduce playing time for underage gamers.
The crackdown shaved around US$250 billion off the company’s stock market value by late last year, though shares have largely recovered as some game approvals subsequently resumed.
The China gaming industry had been watching to see whether Tencent would gain approval to permanently offer ‘PUBG Mobile’ due to its potential to generate big profits for the company.
But Tencent’s Hong Kong-listed shares rose 1.05 per cent on Wednesday, with analysts saying Game of Peace will give the company something to monetise in place of PUBG Mobile.
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