PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds officially arrives on smartphones in China
Tencent releases two different versions of hit PC game
The hottest PC game in the world has finally been released in China -- except it's only on smartphones, and there's two of them.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) is a battle royale game where one hundred players land on a deserted island, scavenge for weapons, and fight to be the last person standing. This simple premise -- similar to the competition in The Hunger Games -- quickly spawned many imitators, including plenty of smartphone clones from China. NetEase says just one of its many battle royale games, Knives Out, has 100 million registered players, far more than the original PUBG.
Now Tencent -- which already has PUBG clones of its own -- has released two different versions of the official game in China. PUBG: Exhilarating Battlefield is essentially the same as the PC game, while PUBG: Army Attack expands the formula to include naval battles.
With 500 million mobile gamers in China, it's not surprising that Tencent chose to get the smartphone games out before the PC version. What is surprising is how well they've managed to translate the game for mobile.
As you can see from the screenshots in this story, PUBG: Exhilarating Battlefield on my iPhone X looked just as good as PUBG on Xbox One -- and sometimes even better. It was certainly far smoother, too. PUBG on Xbox One -- developed with assistance from Microsoft itself -- can be a stuttery experience, and has plenty of blurry textures. On iPhone X, Tencent's version ran smoothly and looked sharp.
Will it be enough to help Tencent overhaul NetEase's roster of battle royale games? Both PUBG games quickly shot to the top of the iOS App Store charts in China. Analyst Daniel Ahmad at Niko Partners is cautiously optimistic, noting NetEase's formidable lead.
"Tencent is extremely smart to obtain the license for PUBG, as this is the game that started the battle royale craze to begin with and has 10 million players on PC in China already," he told Abacus. "But it remains to be seen how well it can do with established battle royale games already on the market."