On Wednesday, Tencent Holdings Ltd dropped the hugely popular mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) in China after failing to secure a license from the government to collect revenues from the game, Reuters reported. Tencent said in a post on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, that it was ending its test version of the multi-player combat game, and directed users to download Game for Peace, a similar, ‘more patriotic’ multi-player battle game with an anti-terrorism theme, for which it won monetisation approval in April.
Tencent had waited more than a year for approval to earn money on PUBG via in-app purchases and had even given the game a socialist makeover to comply with stringent government rules, the report said. Game for Peace, which pays homage to China’s military, closely mimics PUBG’s gameplay, with a similar interface and functions to help users migrate their in-game profiles and resume where they left off. The report quoted an analyst as saying that as PUBG had around 70 million average daily users in China, Game for Peace could generate 8 billion to 10 billion yuan ($1.18 billion to $1.48 billion) in annual revenue.
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 (@SvendJoscelyne) May 8, 2019
PUBG’s troubles in India, Nepal and elsewhere
In India, PUBG was banned in several parts of Gujarat in March, including Ahmedabad (later lifted), Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath and Panchmahal. It is also banned in all Gujarat state schools. The game was banned for allegedly inciting violence in children, being addictive, and distracting students from studies. Rajkot was the first city in Gujarat to ban PUBG, between March 9 to April 30. The Rajkot police’s ban notification even prohibited unlawful assembly of more than four people in a public place, under Section 144 of the CrPC. A few days after the ban, at least seven people were arrested for playing the game in public. On April 11, the Gujarat High Court dismissed a public interest litigation suit filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), which challenged the ban. Another petition before the Bombay High Court asked that PUBG be banned in all schools in the state. The high court asked MeitY take action if it found any objectionable content.
In April, the Supreme Court of Nepal stayed the government’s countrywide ban on PUBG, stating that the game was simply used by the general public for entertainment, and that allowing the ban to continue could adversely impact people’s right to freedom. The Nepal government had banned PUBG earlier that month because it was “addictive to children and teenagers”. It had directed all internet service providers, mobile operators, and network service providers to block “streaming of the game”. According to a report in Nepal daily the Himalayan Times, the game’s ban in some Indian states was factored in when recommending the ban.
In the UAE, parents have called for a ban on PUBG, calling it a “bad influence on youth” due to its “violent content and addictive nature”, per Khaleej Times.
Iraq’s parliament in April voted to ban PUBG (and another similar game, Fortnite) citing their negative influence on young people in a country which has seen real-life violence, Reuters reported.