According to a report from Reuters, megacorporation Tencent has pulled access to the blockbuster battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from China, and replaced it with its own in-house developed version that offers a similar but "more patriotic" experience for Chinese players. The core difference, however, is that this new game, referred to in English as Game for Peace, has regulatory approval to generate revenue, unlike PUBG. According to the Reuters report, the company obtained the monetization approval for Game for Peace in April.
The main reason for the replacement is that the Chinese company has been waiting in vain for over a year for approval to earn money on PUBG via in-game purchases, and once it obtained the monetization approval for their own new game last month there was no other obstacle to release their own spin on the genre-defining battle royale game, except with a "socialist makeover" in order to meet the government's stringent rules. According to analysts at investment bank China Renaissance, if the Chinese players of PUBG migrate to Game for Peace, it could "potentially generate 8 billion yuan to 10 billion yuan ($1.18 billion to $1.48 billion) in annual revenue."
The announcement resulted in Tencent shares rising about 2 percent during the afternoon trade hours. In their official website statement in Chinese, Tencent described Game for Peace as a tactical shooter developed in-house, and paying "tribute to the blue sky warriors that guard our country’s airspace," which is a reference to the People's Liberation Army Air Force. According to the IHS Markit games analyst Cui Chenyu, user reviews indicated that Game for Peace plays very similarly to PUBG, which Tencent had licensed in China and released a mobile version of the game, worldwide as well as for the Chinese market. "It’s almost exactly the same. The gameplay, the background, the graphic design and the characters, they’re almost the same." However, a Tencent spokesperson told Reuters that "they are very different genres of games." Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Bluehole, the South Korean developer and publisher of PUBG, declined to comment further, saying that the company is looking into the status of PUBG in China.
On Wednesday, “PUBG is gone” was one of the most viewed topics on Weibo, the "Chinese Twitter," with over 300 million clicks and close to 90,000 posts. As per Reuters, one Weibo user commented: "I was scared to death," when he realized that he could no longer access PUBG, 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." Another user commented on the absence of gore: "I’m going to die of laughter. When you shoot people, they don’t bleed, and the dead get up and wave goodbye!"
What do you think of Game for Peace? Is it likely that the Chinese PUBG playerbase will migrate to Tencent's game, or is it more likely to flop? Let us know in the comments below!