Tencent's PUBG Mobile rebranded in Chinese mainland as Game for Peace, features 16+ juvenile protection system

By Tao Mingyang Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/9 18:23:40

The login screen for Game for Peace Photo: IC

Cosplayers wearing ghillie suits attend the Comic Up 23 convention in Shanghai on December 16, 2018. Photo: IC

On Wednesday morning, the official Sina Weibo account for PUBG (PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds) Mobile: Cijizhanchang (Lit: exciting battleground) announced that it has put out a new patch that updates the game to a new public beta version called Game for Peace. The post quickly rose to the top of trending lists on Sina Weibo. Many players expressed that they were unhappy that the developer changed the game without prior notification, while others said they were looking forward to playing the new version of the game.

Hot trend

PUBG is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. In the game, up to 100 players parachute onto an island and fight each other with scavenged weapons and equipment until only one team or individual remains. After PUBG's early access release on Windows on March 23, 2017, more than 10 million copies of the game were sold, earning the developer around $11 million in just three days.  

In August 2017, Chinese IT giant Tencent purchased equity in the company. Tencent's Lightspeed & Quantum Studios Group then developed and launched PUBG Mobile, known as PUBG Mobile: Cijizhanchang in the Chinese mainland, where it was considered to be in beta. Outside the Chinese mainland, PUBG Mobile adopted a free-to-play model that brought in revenue by selling clothing and equipment skins through in-app purchases. According to a report by US technology website VentureBeat, PUBG Mobile has earned $ 158 million (1.07 billion yuan) in revenue so far and has been downloaded 270 million times. 

In the mainland, however, PUBG Mobile: Cijizhanchang lacked in-app purchases as it was still applying for approval from the Chinese government. 

Now, about a year and a half after its introduction to the mainland, Tencent has introduced the new version, Game for Peace, which has made many major changes to the game, but also now includes in-app purchases. Financially this is a huge break for Tencent. According to a report by Citibank, Game for Peace will begin to turn a profit in 2020 and Tencent's stock price will increase by 19 percent.  

Major changes

On April 22, Tencent posted an article about juvenile protection in video games on its official Sina Weibo account. In the article, Tencent said they would soon be introducing a "16+ system" into an up and coming game. It seems that Game for Peace is that game. 

The new system requires players be 16 and older to register for the game. For players 16 and 17 years of age, their play time is restricted to two hours a day.

In order to secure an official government license so it could implement microtransactions, Lightspeed & Quantum have implemented a lot of changes to the game, including changes to the visual effects and game designs. 

Now when a bullet hits another player in game, sparks are seen instead of the green blood from the Chinese PUBG Mobile version and players no longer die when defeated but wave their hand goodbye and disappear. Additionally, the electrical "death wall" that shrinks in size, forcing players toward a central point, has now been replaced by a shrinking "signal zone" that players must now stay within. Finally, when only five teams are left, a message pops up giving players on those teams the option to quit and still receive experience points.  

The aesthetics of the game have changes somewhat as well. The staging area before players get on the plane that takes them to the island is now filled with positive messages of encouragement. What's more, Game for Peace is officially supported by the People's Liberation Army Air Force. As such several China-developed aircraft, such as the J-20 fighter and Y-20 transport plane appear in the game and carry players to the battleground. 

For the best

Chi Hanyu is a player working in Beijing. After trying out Game for Peace, he took to social media to post his dissatisfaction about the changes made to the game. 

"This is not a real battleground," Chi posted. 

"Does an enemy wave his hand and say goodbye to you when you defeat him?" 

Chi's echoes posts from many other players in China. 

Talking to the Global Times, Chi admitted that this move might be best when it comes to solving the problem of teenagers playing violent games.  

"Some limitation and changes are needed and very necessary. We will no longer have to worry that the games we love are being criticized on social media," Chi said. 

"As to my family, my 11-year-old cousin will have more time to focus on his studies instead of arguing with his mom about playing game."

Newspaper headline: Time for a change

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