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Tencent’s PUBG Mobile Tops 2020 Mobile Battle Royale with $1.6B Revenue, Bigger than No. 2 to 5 Combined

Nica San Juan
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Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile is 2020’s highest grossing battle royale mobile game so far. According to the research data analyzed and published by Safe Betting Sites, its lifetime earnings surpassed the $3.5 billion mark in September 2020.

From January 1, 2020 to August 13, 2020, the game had generated a total of $1.6 billion in revenue. In second place was Garena Free Fire at $395 million, which is less than a quarter of PUBG Mobile’s figure. Knives Out was third with $367 million while Fortnite was fourth with $293 million. Call of Duty: Mobile came in fifth with $277 million.

In total, the games in second to the fifth position raked in slightly more than $1.3 billion, falling short of the PUBG Mobile total by almost $300 million.

PUBG Mobile’s lifetime revenue figure includes revenue from China, where the game goes by the name Game for Peace. In fact, China is its top market, where the rebranded game has raked in almost $1.9 billion of its lifetime earnings on the App Store alone, accounting for 53% of revenue. Notably, the App Store accounts for 80% of all its revenue. Its second biggest market is the US, with 13.6% of revenue and Japan is third with 5.5%.

India, a key PUBG Mobile market, banned it and multiple other games. The move resulted in a loss of at least 33 million active subscribers. India is the highest-ranking country in terms of downloads, with 185.5 million downloads from a total of 770 million, or 24%.

However, despite having a huge player base in the country, India only accounts for 1.2% of global spending on the game. As such, the ban is not expected to have a big impact on overall revenue.


PUBG Hits $270M Global Player Spending Peak in March 2020

Battle royale shooters first appeared on the scene in September 2017, but the first to monetize was Knives Out, in December of the same year. Since that time, the five aforementioned games have had a total of 1.9 billion downloads cumulatively. The total player spending on them across the Apple App Store and Google Play Store as of August 13, 2020 was around $7.5 billion.

PUBG Mobile surpassed the $3 billion mark towards the end of July 2020. March 2020 had a peak of $270 million in global player spending. That came about following a surge in gaming-related spending occasioned by the global health crisis and resulting lockdowns.

PUBG is not simply a hit on mobile as its PC counterpart has also shown remarkable performance since its launch. As of September 18, 2020, it was the third most played game on Steam. CS:GO was in the first place and Dota 2 in second place. It holds the all-time peak for concurrent players, 3,257,248, a record it set in January 2018.

Following its release in 2017, the game sold over 50 million units within a single year. As of July 2020, it had sold over 70 million units according to Statista. The creator, Brendan Greene, started working on the billion-dollar game while living on welfare and is recognized as the founder of the battle royale genre.


Fortnite Leaves $181M Gap in US Mobile Gaming Market, $1.2B Gap Globally

In the US market, Fortnite has been ahead of PUBG Mobile based on gross revenue. Between January 1, 2020 and August 13, 2020 when it was removed from Google Play and the App Store, it had made a total of $181 million in the US alone. In contrast, PUBG Mobile had made $156 million as of the same date.

Call of Duty Mobile was third in the market with $111 million while Garena Free Fire took the fourth spot with $74 million. Knives Out was not in the top 5, as the fifth game was Zooba, with $5 million.

The removal of Fortnite has left a significant gap in the mobile battle royal shooters space. It came about following a payment bypass issue. According to Sensor Tower estimates, it made over $1.2 billion on the App Store from player spending since its launch in March 2018. On Google Play, its revenue since launching in April 2020 was around $9.7 million.

Its downloads on the App Store totaled 133 million while on Google Play, they amounted to 11 million. From the total 2020 revenue, $283 million came from the App Store alone. Total downloads in 2020 were 31 million, 20 million being on the App Store.

Notably, a week after Fortnite’s removal, Call of Duty: Mobile revenue increased 69% week-on-week in the US.

Nica San Juan
Nica San Juan

Nica is a BA Political Science graduate, startup founder and financial expert. She has an entrepreneurial spirit and started several startups from a young age, eventually becoming fascinated with stocks, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain economy. She specializes in financial tech and her expertise is in writing detailed tutorials and guides on how to invest in stocks and cryptocurrencies.

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