PUBG Mobile has generated more than $1.1 billion in revenue since October 2020, Sensor Tower estimates. The very successful mobile spin-off of the popular Battle Royale now sits as the second biggest mobile game in the world in terms of gross revenue, right behind another Tencent product in Honor of Kings ($1.1 billion since October). Genshin Impact ranks third with an estimated $873 million in revenue.
PUBG Mobile's sizeable revenue and worldwide position as No. 2 comes despite its persisting ban in India, previously the game's largest community. In September 2020, the Indian government cracked down on the game (as well as many more apps made by Tencent and Netease), citing "misuse of these Apps for stealing and transmitting data of users in unauthorized way to servers located outside India."
Persisting ban in India severely hurting PUBG Mobile
After the September ban in India, times have been difficult for PUBG Mobile. According to Business of Apps, PUBG Mobile was on a steady rise of daily active users, reaching 65 million by Q1 of 2020. It was estimated that 24% of app downloads came from India. But the ban cut the growth at the knees. In December 2020, the DAU of PUBG Mobile were estimated at 30 million — a 53% shrinkage.
In an attempt to get the ban lifted, Krafton — the holding company of PUBG Mobile developers Bluhole — has been focusing on the Indian market by creating new jobs to operate the Indian Department and investing over $100 million to win the government's favor but to no avail, according to industry insiders. The general sentiment is that short of a miracle, PUBG Mobile will likely stay banned in India.
Indian players have nevertheless been finding ways to enjoy the game using VPN to keep the daily active users high, but the PUBG Mobile esports scene is in hibernation. Most low to mid-tier teams have migrated to other titles like Free Fire, or disbanded altogether. Top tier teams, such as Fnatic, TSM Entity, Nova GodLike, and Orange Rock, are still keeping their players, though they haven't played a single competitive match since August.
Meanwhile, the PUBG Mobile fanbase is waiting in expectation of PUBG Mobile New State — the futuristic new release of the game, set to launch sometime in 2021 — although it's likely it also won't make it to India.
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.