Watching the rise and fall of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (Free) (or PUBG) under the shadow of Fortnite (Free) has been something else. For those who haven’t been paying attention, PUBG launched on the PC in early 2017 via Steam’s Early Access where it saw seemingly instant success. The game rapidly took over Twitch, with many of the most popular streamers who had built their fan bases around streaming other games all shifted gears to PUBG. In December of 2017 PUBG was “officially" released on the PC as well as the Xbox One, trailing behind Fortnite’s battle royale mode which came out in September. (I still vastly prefer PUBG over other battle royale games, as the whole gritty military style just appeals to me more as a long-time Counter-Strike and Battlefield player.)
For whatever reason, it seems Fortnite has absolutely dominated PUBG’s positioning in the battle royale scene, particularly on Twitch, but that doesn’t mean PUBG still isn’t immensely popular. Additionally, it seems that mobile players are almost entirely responsible for propping up that popularity. In a media alert sent out today, PUBG is boasting over 400 million players worldwide spread across all platforms, with 227 million monthly active players. Where things get weird is PUBG PR refuses to provide what sort of platform split those massive numbers come from, but it’s not hard to do a little math and make some incredibly reasonable assumptions.
As part of the same announcement, PUBG has sold over 50 million units on the PC and Xbox One, leaving 350 million of that stat unaccounted for from platforms like kakao (mobile), DMM (mobile), iOS, and Android. PUBG is also distributed on Mail.ru, but it’s hard to believe that is putting much of a dent in any of these stats. Therefore, it’s super easy to assume that the remainder of the units are likely all mobile installs- Nearly 90% of the player base, in fact. Additionally, if we take the 227 million monthly active players, and make the unrealistic assumption that all 50 million people who bought the game on PC or Xbox One are still actively playing, the PUBG mobile playerbase consists of at least 80% of their total active players.
Rounding all this out, we can come to the very realistic conclusion that while PUBG started as a hardcore PC game on Twitch, it has since transformed to be a super popular mobile game with a tiny niche PC/console component. But, hey, if you want to play that tiny niche version of PUBG, it’s on 33% off on Steam today.
What a time to be alive.