Tencent’s mobile battle royale title “PUBG Mobile” was the most profitable Chinese mobile game outside of China in 2019, according to a report from analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Why it matters: Mobile games have been the main growth driver for Tencent’s gaming business for the past few years, with overseas markets playing an increasingly important role.

  • Smartphone game revenue rose 25% year on year and accounted for 85% of the company’s online games revenue in the third quarter of 2019.
  • International markets contributed “a teens percentage” of Tencent’s gaming revenue in Q3 2019.

Details: PUBG Mobile grossed more than $776 million from player spending across Apple’s App Store and Google Play in 2019.

  • The Tencent title ranked first of the top 30 most-profitable Chinese mobile games for 11 months in 2019.
  • US players contributed the most to PUBG Mobile’s overseas revenue in 2019, accounting for 33.5% of all user spending, followed by players from Japan, who contributed 11.7%.
  • Runners up on the list include strategy title “Rise of Kingdoms” from Lilith Games, “Knives Out” from NetEase, and “Lords Mobile” from IGG.
  • Monthly revenue on the top 30 list rose 39% during the year to $7.6 million seen in December compared with $5.5 million average in January 2019.

Context: Tencent started beta testing PUBG Mobile in China in February 2018 but was unable to acquire a license for the title due to a nine-month, country-wide game approval freeze, leaving the company unable to monetize the game.

  • In May 2019, Tencent rebranded PUBG Mobile as patriotic-themed “Peacekeeper Elite,” which was approved in April.
  • Total revenues from PUBG Mobile and Peacekeeper Elite surpassed $1.5 billion in December 2019.

Tony Xu

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

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