The mobile version of the hugely popular PUBG has had quite an unprecedented success in India, and it is changing the gaming landscape in the country.
When PUBG hit the PC Gaming market, it became quite the phenomenon, and dethroned even Dota 2 as the most played game on steam. It wasn’t the first Battle Royale, but it surely made the genre incredibly popular and paved the way for games like Apex and Fortnite. The PC version of the game also became quite popular in the Indian gaming community as well, but nothing as near as PUBG Mobile.
The Mobile version of the game has become so popular that mainstream media houses, which have never much cared about gaming, started covering the game. Recently, Brut India did a video report on the game as well, which featured Rohin “PCPeasants” Bahumik, Saloni “Mewo16k” Pawar, Rishabh “Rakazone” Karanwal, Dhruv “Risey” Gupta and Vaibhav “Superwavvy” Khurana.
And the popularity of the game did not just surge soleley in the gaming community; the game went beyond the PC community and the console community to involve even your local dhobi and gym trainer. Tencent revealed in December that PUBM had 30 million daily active users and had crossed 200 million downloads in India. In comparison, PUBG PC peaked at 3.2 million users in January 2018, worldwide (via steamcharts).
But this popularity has also caused quite a negative publicity of the game. Many media outlets reported people getting addicted to the game, leading to some stealing money from their parents and other even stabbing their friends over the game. The game even received a temporary ban in Gujarat under which many players were arrested.
What makes it so popular?
A combination of several factors: the number of smartphone users in India and cheap internet. According to QZ, India will have 829 million smartphone users by 2022. And according to Forbes, India already has the cheapest mobile internet charges as compared to anywhere in the world. This makes the game very accessible in India. On top of all this, the game is free to play, so many download the game to try it out, and before they know, they are hooked.
The third factor which has enabled PUBGM to gain such a hold in the country is the fact that building a PC in India ain’t cheap. PUBG PC is an unoptimised game with various performance issues, and entry level PCs can’t really handle the game very well. “Prices for Pc components in India are very Hiked up”, says Harnit “Gunshot” Khatri, a popular streamer on YouTube. “In India during the bit coin craze, a 1070ti could set you back by about 75k. For thatt much, I got a whole pre built PC in Canada on a Black Market sale.”
How is it changing the gaming scene in India?
Tencent is one of the biggest gaming companies in the world. It is China’s top gaming company, and commands 13% of the world’s gaming market. It’s subsidiaries include big names like EPIC, Supercell, WeChat and Riot games among others. And they are coming all in in India.
They hosted a tournament for college students back in 2018 with a prize pool of Rs 50 Lakh. Later this year, they held another tournament worth Rs 1 crore in India, which is up there with the big ones like CS:GO and Dota 2.
Coupled with Tencent’s push and the growing popularity, PUBGM has also helped streaming become popular in India.
Dynamo is currently on of the most popular streamers in India who streams PUBG mobile with 3.83 million subscribers. His daily view count peaked at 2.78 million views in March. Before PUBG Mobile was launched last year, he used to stream PUBG PC and his views averaged a few thousands, which was also to be frank, quite an achievement. (via socialblade)
But Dynamo isn’t the only one who benefited. “When I used to stream PUBG PC, I peaked at around a thousand viewers”, says Gunshot. “I used to get around 300-500 subs a day on YouTube. But when I started streaming PUBG Mobile my peak was at 7k and my growth increased by three to five times at around 1500 subs a day”.
But this increase in popularity in streaming might also benefit rest of the gaming community. Mohit “Supermad” Rajgaria, who made it to the Twitch front page this month says, “It is creating an ecosystem for gamers and streamers. More people are getting familiar with the concept of streaming. People are getting to know that being a gamer can also be a career. A lot of the viewer traffic comes from PC gamers as well. They might start to look for streamers who play PC games as well.”
But not everyone is in on the hype. As Meow16k says, “I have a very different view or maybe I’m just thinking about the future. In a way, most of the PUBG Mobile players are just boosting their subscribers. But when these streamers switch to another games, they cannot get any viewers. A lot of streamers who usually get viewers in quadruple digits fall to double or single digits when they stream other games. I’ve seen live examples. Same was the case with Ninja. During the Fortnite hype, he had above 200k viewers on average on Twitch, peaking at over 600k when he streamed with drake. But now, he gets around 20k viewers on average. “
But how long will the PUBGM craze actually last, with Call of Duty’s mobile version in the works? Supermad and Meow16k believe that just like any other game, PUBG mobile has only a while before it dies down. Gunshot on the other hand believes that it has still got a lot of life left.
But one thing is clear, PUBGM is changing the Indian perception towards gaming, for better or for worse.
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