PUBG Mobile country of origin: China's role in popular eSports platform

The origins of PUBG Mobile, one of the most popular games in India for mobile phone users, continues to cause some confusion.

PubG mobile file photo, Image credit: Facebook/PubGmobile

As far as battle royale games go, few if any can match the popularity of PUBG Mobile. The shooting game has seen plenty of growth in India and around the world, with users unable to get enough.

However, for Indian users, things changed massively in the middle of 2020. India-China relations were at an all-time low and the Indian government banned any apps of Chinese origin.

This included the likes of social media giant TikTok and also – you guessed it – PUBG Mobile. This would eventually lead to intense debate about the origins of the popular game.

Many argued that the game originally started in South Korea, meaning it was pointless to ban it in the first place. Others stated that the app was Chinese-backed, meaning the ban was completely justified.

So what is the actual story? As it turns out, there is truth in both claims – meaning that, for once, neither side is actually wrong.

PUBG has roots in South Korea

The publication of the game PUBG can be traced back to Bluehole Studio, a South Korean company. They were the holding company that both developed and published the game.

The man behind the game? Brendan Greene, a man born in Ireland who got the idea of the game from a movie. Yes, he watched a Japanese movie named Battle Royale and thus worked on developing the game.

While developing the game, Greene would test out the various editions himself. The screenname he used? PlayerUnknown, which was what gave rise to the name PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, or PUBG for short.

Bear in mind that this game was, at that point, not a mobile game as such. It was an online game meant to be played on PC and later on XBox and XBox One and PlayStation 4.

So far so good, right? No Chinese involvement till that point, meaning the game can indeed trace its roots back to South Korea. However, things became complicated after 2017.

PUBG Mobile: how China played a part in the game

In 2017, the game was banned in China. Due to this, Tencent Games – the video games publishing unit of Tencent Holdings – managed to secure distribution rights of the game in China.

They also planned to launch a mobile version of the game, which was dubbed PUBG Mobile. And thus the link between PUBG and China can be seen.

The game was kept banned for a long time, and is still technically not available to play in India. Instead, users in the country now play BattleGrounds Mobile India, a game developed by Krafton, the current name of Bluehole Studio.

The game is all but the same but, due to it not being a Chinese app, was able to easily enter the Indian market.

Sportslumo Desk

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