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December 20, 2017
PUBG: Battlegrounds is an online multiplayer battle royale game initially available in early access on Steam in March 2017. It is hailed as one of the two games (with Fortnite) that ushered the battle royale genre in an all-new era of prosperity and copycats.
Since it is a battle royale, the core of the gameplay is pretty easy to understand: up to 100 players are parachuted on a map, and their goal is to kill each other so that only one will be left standing. In-game, that means scavenging for resources, exploring the map to pinpoint strategic locations, playing safe and smart, and being cunning. Plus, the map will start shrinking, reducing the number of safe areas available and forcing players to engage. Players do not have to solo the whole match and can enter the battle royale with a team (4 people maximum). The mechanics and gameplay are pretty simple, so the game is known for being rookie-friendly. It is not difficult for new players to get in the groove.
Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene’s goal was to create a new kind of multiplayer shooter that would mix Battle Royale (the 2000 Kinji Fukasaku’s movie), his mods from games such as ARMA and the DayZ mod with its military simulation and open gameplay. The game stayed in early access on Steam from March to December 2017 as devs wanted the final version to be as perfect as possible. They took their time correcting everything based on players’ feedback. But even then, it was already a raging success with players. A success confirmed after the official release that took the world by storm at the end of 2017. The game was then quickly ported on consoles, Stadia, and mobile devices, thriving everywhere.
What about a closer look at one of the best-selling, most played, and highest-grossing games in the last five years with these PUBG: Battlegrounds statistics and facts? If you said yes, chances are you’ll enjoy our video games industry statistics piece as well, so take a look at that too!
PUBG user stats
The game is an international success; the community is a vast mix of nationalities reflected during matches. PUBG players come for the thrill they can get in hunting while also being hunted. However, the player base has been deemed as highly toxic, not only because of how some players are overly competitive but also through repeated racist/xenophobic behaviors and a considerable lack of sportsmanship.
The 18-25 age group makes up the majority of the player base.
It is then followed by people aged 26 to 35 and tweens and teens who are under 18 rank third.
The minority group age is 35-45.
In 2019 in the US, 57.4% of the players were men, while 42.6% were women (PUBG Mobile).
The poll was a small one conducted on Reddit. However, as small as the sample can be, it reflects what several players in the community have stated: PUBG is targeted at adults from 18 and higher. The Steam page even indicates that the content in-game has not been made thinking about kids. When Krafton/PUBG Corp made significant changes to the games (such as green blood for India or the complete erasure of blood for China), it was only when pushed by the government to comply with local laws and restrictions. Of their own volition, it never happened, which shows that the core target is the adult population. In a study conducted in 2018, Newzoo concluded that most players in PUBG were financially independent.
PUBG has sold over 70 million units.
(Source: Business of Apps)
It started with a timid 2 million in May 2017, selling 2 million additional in just a month to reach 4 million in June 2017.
From there, the game steadily sold 2 million units each month. Then, from September 2017 and its 10 million, the game sold 40 million copies in 7 months only, reaching 50 million in June 2018 (!
In July 2020, it was announced that a total of 70 million units had been sold.
Let’s not forget that PUBG was already making waves initially, despite being in early access and still full of bugs and limitations. It was only a matter of time before millions of units would be sold after the official release. But that official release would come at the end of the year, however, the game was already selling millions of copies each month before December. The anticipation was real, and certainly, PUBG Corporation was not worried about what their release would look like. Of note is the fact that the company intends to switch this version to free-to-play in 2022, which will boost the number of owners.
In 2020, PUBG exceeded 55 million daily active users on all platforms.
(Source: Business Wire)
In 2019, the game registered an average of 35 million daily active players.
In 2021, the total number of daily active players is around 45 million.
PUBG Mobile has overtaken the original PUBG. How do I know? Simply because finding information that basic was extremely difficult. Surfing on the wild success of the app, Krafton/PUBG Corp is neglecting to provide the public with as many updates as we get from the mobile version. Nonetheless, the game is doing well. However, players on PC and consoles complain about how slow the company has been to release new updates and fix bugs. Maybe with the introduction of the new tier account coming with the upcoming free-to-play version, we will see major changes for players attached to the original game.
25% of PUBG users only play PUBG while 40% play both Fortnite and PUBG.
41% consider themselves core gamers, 22% spend more than 10 hours on social media and chat apps, and 30% discover new games through online videos (think Youtube).
78% watch streams of various games, 25% watch eSports content several times a month.
The second part of the poll focused only on PUBG-only players, not those playing both games. As we can see, the PUBG seems to have a natural penchant for eSports and videos on video games in general. They are the ones watching channels like ManlyBadassHero or John Wolfe (among the numerous PUBG Youtubers/Twitchers), and they follow the gaming news through channels like IGN or Did You Know Gaming. Their habits seem to revolve around the Internet a lot.
PUBG key stats
With such success, everyone is a bit curious about topics focused on revenues, profits, the number of downloads, and more information around the game itself… which you will not find here. It is tough, if not impossible, to find accurate and recent information on revenues and profits generated by the main game. Then again, it shows where the focus is between the original version and the mobile one.
The game has received over 40 accolades and awards.
Amongst the most notable awards won, we can remember Best Multiplayer/PC Game/Mobile Game at the Golden Joystick Awards and the Best Multiplayer at the Game Awards. The game also won the Excellence Prize and the Rookie Award at the Famitsu Awards in Japan.
When it comes to accolades, PUBG was nominated for Best Original Property/Multiplayer/Evolving Game at the BAFTA, Best eSports at the NAVGTR and Best Design/Innovation Award/Game of the Year at the Game Developers Choice Awards…amongst others.
PUBG has also received rewards and accolades from magazines and webzines. The game has been strongly acknowledged throughout the years, even winning on shows like Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards or the BBC Teen Awards.
PUBG usage stats
Time to take a closer look at how the community consumes the game. From the countries where the fans are the most invested to a ranking of the favorite heroes of professional players (with numbers!), we got it all.
The United States has the highest rate of daily participation at 17.12%.
(Source: Player Counter)
India is #2 with 7.98% and is followed by Brazil as #3 with 6.5%.
The rest of that Top 5 is rounded off by Turkey (5.63%) and Russia (4.76%).
In 2017, the US was also at the top with 24%, closely followed by China with 19%.
Unfortunately, PlayerCounter cannot obtain information from China, but it is best to believe they would have been either at the top or right behind the US. India has undoubtedly boosted its numbers thanks to the newly released BGMI. However, the original PUBG was not banned on Steam and consoles, so the Indian player base never totally disappeared. Nevertheless, a good chunk of it plays on mobile.
99 million players have landed on Taego, the newly added map in 2021 and inspired by South Korea.
1,438,208 pony coupes have been destroyed on the island and 1,650,643 of self AEDS have been used.
2,219,111,568 damage points have been inflicted with the K2, while 1,337,359,221 damage points have been done with the MK12.
For reference, chicken dinners refer to the “winner winner chicken dinner” you will see on your screen if you are victorious, something all players desire. Otherwise, that new map was a success and brought back some players who were starting to give up on the game and others who just came back when new content was added.
PUBG is ranked #39 on Twitch.
Over 7 days: the average number of viewers is 8,198, the average number of channels streaming the game is 558, the average number of viewers/channel is 14.7 and the number of hours watched is 1,381,369.
The highest number of concurrent viewers was 597,663 in July 2018 and the highest number of channels streaming at the same time was 6,482 in April 2018.
On average, the number of viewers is around 14,805 and the number of channels is 665.
The game is streamed by 16% more channels during the weekend, and there are 23% more viewers.
Surprisingly, the game is not big on Twitch, not even in the top 10. It is a bit of an incongruity considering that there is an eSports community for PUBG. However, we can see that the game is still heavily consumed in terms of hours, with over 1 million hours watched in just seven days. The Twitch community might be smaller than it should be, but they are making up for it by absorbing a lot of content.
The highest number of concurrent players on Steam was 3.2 million in January 2018.
(Source: Steam, Steam Charts)
The highest number of average players was 1,584,886 in January 2018.
Not including 2017 since the game was in early access during most of the year, the average number of players has dwindled. It went from 1,584,886 in January to 473,541 in December.
In 2019, it started with 497,803 players on average in January and ended the year with 308,445.
Then in 2020, January registered 275,363 average players and 189,233 in December.
2021 is not over yet, but the average number of players has been steadily kept between 200,000 and 145,000.
PUBG has a total of 114,002,432 hours played on Steam.
1,554,616 reviews have been received on Steam and globally lean toward average (54% are positive).
A lot of people seem to misunderstand what “average players” means: it is simply the average number of players you will find playing the game on Steam at any time of the day throughout a specific month. Peak players are that one moment in the month when the highest number of concurrent players will be achieved. When it comes to peak players, the game gravitates around 400,000, but the average number of players has been drastically dwindling. Dangerously so. Maybe it is one reason that has motivated the devs to switch to free-to-play in January 2022. But will it be enough considering that the game has been rated average by the players on Steam?
Android or iOS
PUBG was released on mobile devices in 2018 as PUBG Mobile (simple and straightforward). The game has also encountered the same success here. The mobile version was launched as a free-to-play, which added a huge boost to the player base. Here and there, now or later, with this abridged version of the main game, players can finally take their battles to another level wherever they want.
As of March 2021, PUBG Mobile has been downloaded over 1 billion times.
(Source: The Verge)
After its release in 2018, it was reported that the game had been downloaded 200 million times.
From there, it saw an addition of 200 million installs each year in 2019 and up to March 2020.
In June 2020, it was announced that in the same year the game went from 600 million installs to 730 million…and counting.
In 2020, India represented 24% of the total number of downloads (or 175 million installs), followed by China with 16.7% and the United States with 6.4%.
In 2018, China was at the top with 225 million downloads (33%). The US ranked second with 11% and India with 8%.
In 2020 still, the game was mostly downloaded via Google Play with 65% of all installs, while the App Store accounted for 35% of the grand total.
Met with success from the beginning, PUBG Mobile continued to dominate the charts year after year. In 2020, as everyone had to stay home, the game observed phenomenal growth, receiving millions of additional downloads in just one year. Plus, the franchise also enjoyed the numbers from the chinese version of the game, “Game for Peace”, following China’s new restrictions and tough laws on video games.
As of March 2021, PUBG Mobile has passed the threshold of $6.3 billion in lifetime revenue from player spending.
(Source: TechGaming Report)
The Chinese version was where most of the revenues originated from $1.6 billion or 52% of the total.
The United States followed with 14% and Japan ranked third with 6.4%.
At this point in time, the App Store accounted for the lion’s share of revenue at 79%, and Google Play stood at 21%.
It made over $276 million in 2018 and jumped directly to $1 billion in 2019. In 2020, the game generated $2.6 billion in revenue.
In Q1 2021, Tencent announced that the game had already made $709 million and by September 2021, the game had already reached $1.2 billion.
In 2019, monthly player spending would be between $150 to $165. From January 2020 onwards, these numbers would stay above $200 million per month.
It did not take long before players started spending on the game. Of course, as usual, once China is secured, there is hope for dazzling numbers to appear. And securing China, PUBG did. Even after its remodeling to suit the government’s restrictions and the release of the China-exclusive version of PUBG, the game was still highly in demand. It comes as no surprise then most of the revenue would come from there. Not only are Chinese players really invested, but one has to also understand that unlike the western mentality whereby spending for gacha (randomized content) is frowned upon, in China players do not hesitate to spend a lot of money in gacha to get what they want. Hence, the really harsh restrictions enforced by the government year after year.
In 2020, 50 million people were playing PUBG Mobile daily.
(Source: Business of Apps)
Upon release in April 2018, the game registered 10 million daily active users. At the end of the same year, that total was now up to 30 million.
It continued to grow in 2019 (50 million) and in the first part of 2020 (65 million)… until the Indian ban. After that event, the number of daily active users in December 2020 dropped to 30 million.
China and India are always coveted markets for multiplayer due to their vast population. Indian players were really into PUBG Mobile, if not addicted. But following the tensions between India and China, the country decided to ban popular Chinese apps. And unfortunately, PUBG Mobile was published by Tencent. At this point, Indians represented nearly half of the whole player base on mobile devices, forcing numbers in PUBG Mobile to plummet quickly. Krafton/PUBG Corporation overcame the situation by releasing the India-exclusive “Battleground Mobile India”, entirely handled by their South Korean division. The game is already topping the charts with millions of active players. It is not crossplay, though.
PUBG Mobile ranks #7 in Top Grossing Games (Action) on iPhone and #2 on iPad.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
In Russia: The game is #4 on iPhone and #14 on iPad for free-to-play action games. It is ranked better for top-grossing action games as it is second on iPhone and fifth on iPad.
In Saudi Arabia: PUBG Mobile snatches the first spot on iPhone in Top Free Action Games, while being #22 on iPad. But it is doing way better as the highest-grossing action game on iPhone, while being second on iPad in the same category.
If you did not know that Saudi Arabia was really invested in the game, now you do. The order was determined by how much the game has been downloaded via the App Store. Of course, we will not find China and India here as they have their own versions. Other than that, the game has been doing well when it comes to making money. However, it has not been downloaded much lately which is not that good even if they are still earning a steady revenue.
PUBG Mobile is the third highest-grossing action game on the Google Play Store.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
Another reminder is that the countries are chosen based on monthly downloads. Not all-time downloads. The US would have been at the top, otherwise. The game is not doing as well on Android as on iOS, but it is commendable.
Before fully engaging in eSports, Greene and his team worked on all the aspects that had to be considered to make it entertaining for the players and the public. You might think that if Fortnite can do so well on the eSports stage, PUBG would not have any issues doing so. However, it took a bit of trial and error as the logistics were not optimum. But it is all behind us now as the PUBG eSports scene is thriving between big championships and smaller ones on a national scale. The Chinese version, Game for Peace, also has its own circuit with its biggest tournament, including foreign teams. Japan players also have their own PUBG Mobile eSports scene.
The biggest prize pool in a tournament reached a total of $7 million.
(Source: eSports Earnings)
It was the prize money for the PUBG Global Invitational Main Event 2021.
The total prize money awarded in the PUBG eSports scene is $42,827,518.
PUBG started showing prize pools that would stand at over $1 million in 2018 during the Global Invitational. Unfortunately, when compared to his nemesis (read: Fortnite), PUBG lags behind with a big gap of over $68 million in prize money awarded.
Four of the top five is dominated by South Korean players.
(Source: eSports Earnings)
Loki is #1 with a total of $914,093. He is followed by Pio with $862,814.
ESTH3R is #3 with $862,103 and the last South Korean player is Taemin with $585,598.
Hwinn is the first American player and the first non-South Korean player to enter that top 5 with $450,510.
No, China is not absent from that circuit. Their first ranked player is at #7. Strangely enough, the next ranked South Korean player is only #23, which must mean that those four are the caviar and truffles of their country’s PUBG eSports scene.
Chinese players have the highest earnings with $10.1 million in total.
(Source: eSports Earnings)
South Korea is second with $9 million and the US is third with $4.8 million.
Russia is $2.1 million and Finland $2 million managed to take over the last two spots of that Top 5.
I told you China was in the circuit. If you wonder how they have managed to rake in that much dough when their players are not that high in rankings, it is simply because they have a HUGE roster of players. Not only do they take part in big tournaments, but China also organizes a lot of championships at a local level. You can also see them in competitions organized by neighboring countries such as South Korea. This explanation also stands for South Korea, by the way.
To sum up
Let’s be objective here: PUBG created the battle royale genre. Or more like it shone a light upon it and rearranged it. It had never been much of a thing before that. It even created new codes that are all the rage nowadays. That thing of parachuting characters at the beginning that you see in most battle royale games (even big ones like Apex Legends)? It’s PUBG. The mobile version has been a resounding success, pushing the original version in the shadows considering how you’ll see when searching PUBG is information related to the mobile game. The franchise has been doing well, adding new modes and a much-awaited campaign mode in the future, but it could do so much better.
The game is losing some of its steam, and several factors have been pointed at by players: updates bringing more bugs, not enough new content, lousy communication between the player base and devs, changes that make no sense to players (such as removing the map on NA server), etc. But more than anything else: the continuous cheating from Chinese players using other servers. Chinese players and their cheating have been a severe issue that the devs have tried to manage but to no avail. This also kills players’ hope to see a real ranking system, creating another incentive to cheat even more.
Hopefully, the fact that the game will switch to free-to-play will bring many much-needed positive changes in the community. In the meantime, you can enjoy a new variation: PUBG New State. It is already garnering quite the following all over the world!
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