As it turns out, Chinese players love battle royale shooters on mobile. According to market analyst Sensor Tower, the iOS version of Tencent’s Game for Peace has topped $14 million in player spending in just three days.
The free-to-play multiplayer shooter caused a stir among Chinese mobile players and market-watchers last week when Tencent suddenly replaced PUBG Mobile — an adaptation of the popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on console and PC — with Game for Peace via an in-game update. It looks remarkably similar to PUBG Mobile, and players’ stats and progression carried over into the new game.
Before Tencent swapped it out, PUBG Mobile was available in China for over a year. But as Sensor Tower noted, the company couldn’t monetize it because it didn’t meet the Chinese government’s strict media guidelines. China is a huge market for games with over 600 million players, but publishers must submit their games to the government for approval if they want to legally sell them there.
Tencent developed Game for Peace with one of its internal teams. And because it was approved, the publisher can finally monetize its mobile shooter (not that it needs the money). But despite playing similarly, former PUBG Mobile players noticed that Game for Peace is a sanitized depiction of battle royale, as well as a not-so-subtle piece of propaganda for the Chinese air force.
This viral tweet from Wednesday shows just how bizarre some of those changes were.