The mobile version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUGB) sees over 70 million average daily users in China, but even so, Tencent Holdings is yanking the game and replacing it with a more government friendly alternative called Game for Peace. Analysts believe it could generate over $1 billion annually through in-game purchases.
Tencent announced the launch of Game for Peace on Weibo, where a Google translation pegs the name as Peace Elite. Whatever you want to call it, the game is not PUBG.
This is a big deal for Tencent. PUBG Mobile is a big time money maker for the developer, with users having forked over more than $320 million, based on data from Sensor Tower. Nevertheless, its removal from China is a casualty of recent government restrictions, which made it difficult to sell subscriptions or in-game purchases, according to CNN.
The good news for Tencent is that the same restrictions will not apply to Game for Peace—it will be allowed to monetize the game. There is a good chance that most of PUBG Mobile's players in China will make the transition to Game for Peace.
According to Tencent, Game for Peace "pays tribute to the blue sky warriors that guard our country's airspace." In a statement provided to Reuters, Tencent insisted that PUBG Mobile and Game for Peace "are very different genres of games," though not everyone sees it that way.
"It's almost exactly the same," IHS analyst Cui Chenyu said. "The gameplay, the background, the graphic design, and the characters, they're almost the same."
That should make it easy for PUBG Mobile players in China to play Game for Peace. In addition, it looks like players who update to the new game will start off at the same level they were on in PUBG Mobile, so it's not a total slap in the face.