PUBG Mobile scrapped in China for the patriotic battle royale Game for Peace
Tencent replaces one of the world’s most popular games amid China’s cleanup of violent content
Chinese people are obsessed with battle royale games. But their government is equally obsessed with cleaning up violence and gore in games.
This is why Tencent recently decided to scrap PUBG Mobile, which has an estimated 186 million users in China, and replace the app with a new one called Game for Peace.
Yup: One of the biggest shooting games in the world, in a genre where people literally use guns to battle to the death, is now called Game for Peace.
We played both games, which are developed by Tencent’s Lightspeed & Quantum Studios. The two are essentially the same game, except Game for Peace has no blood, no gore and no death.
This is not a joke. When you’re shot in Game for Peace, you won’t see any blood spilling out of your avatar. Instead, you simply get flashes of green light. And when your enemies eliminate you, you simply kneel and wave until eventually disappearing from the battlefield. (It’s a Game for Peace, remember?)
Rather than welcoming these new changes, gamers in China have taken to mocking Tencent. On social media, gamers joked about Tencent’s “urge to survive” under China's heavy censorship. Just hours after the game was launched, hashtags such as #GameforPeace'sUrgetoSurvive and #WavingGoodbyeinGameforPeace were trending on Weibo.
Violence isn’t the only thing getting cleaned up, either. Game for Peace also seems to be giving PUBG Mobile an image makeover. The game is exceptionally patriotic.
In fact, the moment you fire it up, there's already a huge recruitment ad for the Chinese Air Force. If the ad alone doesn’t entice you, you’ll also get a nice view of several Chinese fighter jets soaring across the sky as you to parachute onto the battlefield.
In response to these new features, a popular Weibo comment said, “In order to get past the censors, Tencent is going all out.”
“Come, come, come. Who is joining me in this Chinese Air Force Recruitment game?” another Weibo user posted.
But there are also those are worried about the current state of censorship in China.
“The cultural revolution is coming,” one Weibo user commented.
You might be wondering, though, why Tencent is risking ridicule by making all these changes now. Isn't PUBG Mobile already a massive hit in China?
It turns out that despite PUBG Mobile's mind-boggling popularity in the country, Tencent hasn’t made a dime from its users. For about a year, the game was available to players only as a trial without proper monetization approval from China’s regulators.
That means the Chinese version of PUBG Mobile -- which is free to download -- couldn't feature any microtransactions, giving Tencent no way to make money from players. That approval never came, even after Tencent appeared to try and please the government by including things like banners of socialist slogans in the game.
PUBG Mobile may have faced multiple hurdles for approval. The game’s violence was one factor. Another, according to one analyst, might have been related to South Korea’s deployment of an American missile defense system, which angered China and led to boycotts of South Korean goods. While PUBG Mobile is developed by Tencent, the original game belongs to South Korea’s Bluehole.
The good news for Tencent is that Game for Peace, which has completely gotten rid of any links to the PUBG brand, now has a proper license in China. At launch, the game was already complete with all the microtransactions typical of a Tencent game.