Tencent’s mobile battle royale titles “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile” (PUBG Mobile) and its Chinese rebrand “Peacekeeper Elite” have raked in more than $1.50 billion since launch, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Why it matters: Smartphone games continue to power growth for Tencent’s gaming business, which started to recover in the third quarter, growing 11% year on year.

  • Revenue from mobile games in the third quarter grew 25% year on year, accounting for 85% of the company’s online games revenue.

Tencent scraps ‘PUBG Mobile,’ replaces it with more compliant ‘Game for Peace’

Details: The two titles, which are seen as the same game adapted for different markets, generated more than $1.3 billion, or 88% of its lifetime revenue in 2019 to date.

  • Launched in China in May, Peacekeeper Elite, also known as “Game for Peace,” grossed a total of $614 million on Apple’s China App Store so far, accounting for close to 41% of the total revenue from the two titles.
  • The US market contributed $293 million across Apple’s App Store and Google Play, or about 20% of the total revenue. Japan ranked third with $117 million.
  • Player spending across the two titles has grown sequentially in every quarter this year, reaching a fresh high of $496 million in the third quarter.
  • PUBG Mobile and Peacekeeper Elite together racked up nearly 555 million downloads worldwide, with 21% coming from India and 19% from China. PUBG Mobile’s official Twitter account, however, said in December that PUBG Mobile alone surpassed 600 million downloads.
  • The revenue figure makes the two titles the highest-grossing shooter game on mobile. In comparison, NetEase’s battle royale title “Knives Out” earned $915 million across iOS and Google Play since its November 2017 launch, whereas Epic Games’ “Fortnite” grossed $838 million from just the App Store to date since its March 2018 launch.

Context: PUBG Mobile started beta testing in China in February 2018 but had been unable to acquire a license due to a country-wide game approval freeze and tightened regulations implemented in April, leaving the company unable to monetize the game.

  • In May, Tencent scrapped PUBG Mobile and relaunched it as patriotic-themed Peacekeeper Elite, which was approved in April. The new version of the game raked in $14 million within 72 hours of launch.

Tony Xu is Shanghai-based tech reporter. Connect with him via e-mail: tony.xu@technode.com

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