In mainland China there are strict rules and regulations for what kind of games are allowed on the market, and whether or not those games can be monetized. In the case of PUBG Mobile, the mobile version of PUBG Corporation’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the game wasn’t approved for monetization and thus Tencent couldn’t make any money on it in mainland China even with the 110 million monthly active users. So Tencent did what any State-approved corporation would do, they turned PUBG Mobile into a propaganda game for the Chinese military called Game For Peace.
Technode is reporting that Tencent has scrapped the name of PUBG Mobile but kept the base game. They made some modifications so that the game has reduced “addictive” measures and increased the presence of Chinese propaganda, including reorienting the theme of the Battle Royale game as a “military skills competition game”.
The descriptive theme is that it’s an anti-terrorist message and a pro Chinese military message. Technode notes that Tencent also included recruitment notices to the Chinese air force during the loading screens after enlisting the help and consultation of China’s air force recruitment center.
So essentially they overhauled PUBG Mobile into a Chinese propaganda recruitment tool for their military.
But what happened to PUBG Mobile in China? Well, the report notes that Tencent issued a maintenance notice saying that PUBG Mobile was just the “beta” for Game For Peace. Now that the beta is done the real game is now available. All of the user data was carried over from PUBG Mobile to Game For Peace, and following the maintenance update the game switched from PUBG Mobile to Game For Peace.
The Chinese Online Game Ethics Committee, a branch under the Publishing Bureau of the Central Propaganda Department, approved the new Game For Peace for publishing and monetization in April of 2019. Tencent kept the news under wraps until they were ready to roll the game out to the Chinese public for iOS and Android devices.
You can see what the game is like and what changes they made via a video posted up by Techzamazing.
As you can see, the hit effects were replaced with giant green sparks. The characters give a peace sign, and the whole game is made to look like a Chinese military exercise… for peace.
Basically, games that celebrate and promote China’s nationalistic qualities are usually always going to be approved for release and monetization in the mainland. This isn’t too surprising given that the original version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was censured heavily by China’s General Office, who claimed that the game’s themes didn’t align with their “Socialist core values” nor the “traditional Chinese culture and ethical norms” in a note back in October of 2017. So Tencent was busy overhauling the game to align with China’s propaganda department, and after completing the task they were given the green light to monetize the game.
PUBG Mobile is still available in its original format in every other region outside of China. The Game For Peace overhaul is specifically made for mainland China.
Don’t be surprised if more games take this route in order to gain acceptance and approval from the Chinese government for release and monetization in mainland China. Ubisoft tried something similar with Rainbow Six: Siege and received a heck of a lot of pushback from gamers who weren’t keen on the game being censored to appease China’s regulations.
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