If you thought that not being able to play PUBG Mobile in China would cut into Tencent’s revenue margins, you were mistaken. According to recent reports by Sensor Tower, the company’s clone/alternative to the battle royale, ironically named Game For Peace, has made an estimated $70M in its first month alone.
That’s more than PUBG Mobile made in April worldwide (China excluded, obviously), and just $6M short of the game’s May revenue numbers of $76M. Combined, PUBG Mobile and Game For Peace have resulted in a 126% increase in revenue for Tencent between April and May.
Tencent have been battling for PUBG Mobile approval with the Chinese government — which controls what games developers can and can’t release on the domestic market — but after a year of struggle, the developer decided to pivot its efforts. They re-purposed the original title and made Game For Peace, a product estimated to generate between $1.18B to $1.48B in annual revenue, according to China Renaissance. If GFP keeps the first month tempo up, it will generate $840M by its first year.
So how did Tencent convince the Chinese government to let GFP fly where PUBG couldn’t? Tencent told Reuters that “they are very different genres of games” but that is clearly not true. The visuals, the maps, the genre itself is strikingly similar (it’s a clone after all). Players can even transfer their PUBG Mobile levels and in-game items to Game for Peace.
What makes GFP different is that nobody really dies. That’s right: in a battle royale game, shooting someone dead results in them getting up, waving goodbye and then vanishing. It seems that if there’s no death, it’s not a problem and it’s not addictive.
“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,” one player said on Weibo.
While Tencent are enjoying some nice revenue and are on a course to make $1B from their battle royale of peace, the biggest competitor on the market, Epic Games’ Fortnite, is still banned in China.