The ongoing tension between India and China following a recent clash between troops of both the nations in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh, has led to a deep impact in the tech world. A large section of the country has taken a stance on boycotting Chinese products ranging from apps like TikTok to electronics including smartphones and televisions. Unsurprisingly the ‘boycott rage’ has reached the gaming world, where people are now questioning the origins of the highly popular game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or better known as PUBG.
In the past few days, social media trends as well as various search engine trends, suggest that Indians have been questioning the origins of the game which has millions of daily active users. There have also been negative reviews and ratings popping up on the Google Play Store.
Now let me first give some basic info about PUBG. The game is offered in two formats- PUBG which is available for consoles and PC and PUBG Mobile which is solely available for smartphones. Both the games have a number of publishers including PUBG Corp, Tencent Games, Lightspeed & Quantum, Krafton and so forth.
Yes a majority of these are based out of China, but the game was originally created by Brendan Greene, an Irish video game designer. The game was eventually developed for PCs and consoles after being acquired by Bluehole, a gaming studio based out of South Korea. Tencent Holdings, which is Chinese multinational conglomerate, announced in 2017 that it has invested a large sum of money into Bluehole. Eventually acquiring 1.5% of Bluehole and announcing its plans to fully acquire the gaming studios. As of today, Tencent is one of the biggest shareholders in Bluehole, thus being associated as the ‘creator’ of PUBG. Tencent basically has the right to use PUBG branding around the world. Additionally, Tencent's close association in the development of PUBG Mobile, which is available only for smartphones, is another reason why some people confuse the fact that the game is originally from China.
Now coming to the matter of boycotting PUBG. I am completely in for nationalism and patriotism, but how does that make a difference? According to a recent report by Statista, PUBG was one of the most popular games on Steam and had a peak of over 5,53,000 concurrent players in May 2020. The highest number of concurrent players was recorded in January 2018 at 3.24 million. A separate report suggests that PUBG Mobile is closing in on half a billion downloads, with a total of over 400 million players out of which 50 million are daily active users. Clearly the game is quite popular, and considering the huge fan base, it doesn’t seem like users in India would completely give it up. I wouldn’t.
Even if we start a whole motion to boycott PUBG and make the government completely ban the availability of the game along with the servers in India, what choice do we have? Well there is Fortnite, which is technically made by an American company (Yay?) but in my opinion, the gameplay just feels a little gimmicky. Then there’s Garena Free Fire, which is a mobile only game that offers a good battle royale experience along with characters having unique abilities. Further, if you have your mind set on not playing PUBG anymore, you can also try your hand at Knives Out, Call of Duty Mobile, and Battlelands Royale.