PUBG Mobile may soon be banned in India. Yes, that may be bad news for many, particularly at a time when this incredibly popular game is on the list of as many as 275 more Chinese-owned apps that are under the scanner of the Government of India (Read more here). These apps are being reviewed for potential user privacy violations and national security threats. This follows the ban on 59 Chinese-owned apps last month, a list that included the very popular social media app TikTok. The latest list of apps that are under the scanner are believed to include the incredibly popular game PUBG Mobile, ecommerce platform AliExpress and another popular game Ludo World. But that takes us back to a question that perhaps has a surprising answer—who is the owner of PUBG Mobile?
Let us run you through some of the basics about PUBG Mobile, which you probably didn’t realize. To be honest, most of us didn’t, till we actually got down to studying the finer details beyond the noise and the posturing. PUBG is an online multi-player battle royale game that is available for multiple platforms. It is available for Microsoft Windows PCs, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox and Google Stadia, as well as for Android phones and the Apple iPhone where it is popularly known as PUBG Mobile. PUBG came about as an inspiration taken from mods designed by Irish video game designer Brendan Greene, also lovingly referred to as Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene.
This takes us to South Korea. PUBG is developed and published by PUBG Corporation, which was previously known as Ginno Games. It is an internal game studio of Bluehole Studio, which is now a subsidiary of the Krafton Game Union. The Krafton Game Union is based in Bundang-gu, Seongnam, South Korea and its subsidiaries apart from Bluehole Studio also include PUBG Corporation, Pnix, En Masse Studio which is Krafton’s North American publishing arm, Delusion Studio which developed the popular game Castle Bum and Red Sahara Studio which is currently believed to be working on mobile game based on Tera.
Now for the Chinese influence. At this time, Chinese tech giant Tencent has a 1.5% stake in Bluehole Studio, though there are persistent reports that Tencent wants to increase the stake in the game developer. That is not all. PUBG as a game was banned in China back in 2017. Tencent Games, a part of Tencent Holdings, got into an agreement with the game developers to release the game in China, as a mobile version. And thus, started the development of PUBG Mobile as we now know it, which was eventually released globally in 2018. And that is also why you see the Tencent logo quite prominent when the PUBG Mobile game loads on your phone. Which is why it is quite easy to confuse PUBG Mobile or PUBG as a Chinese owned game.
In fact, this isn’t Tencent’s only foray in the gaming space. Tencent is part of a Luxembourg based consortium which acquired 81.4% stake in Finnish game developer Supercell, the studio behind the popular game Clash of Titans and Clash Royale. Within the consortium, Tencent has a 51.2% stake, as of October last year. Tencent also has a 48% stake in Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, PUBG Mobile’s biggest rival.
Tencent also owns 5% stake in Ubisoft game studios which has given us popular gaming title such as Assassin’s Creed and Rainbow Six Siege, as well as a 5% stake in Activision Blizzard, the folks behind the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft titles.