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Tencent to publish PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds in China

Bluehole's new partner obliterates any notion on a ban in PUBG's biggest market

Tencent will be the official publisher for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds in China, strengthening its ties to investment target Bluehole Inc.

The Chinese company announced its partnership with Bluehole today, and according to a translated summary by Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, it will emphasise "banning cheaters" and "making the game work around regulations."

Tencent is an ideal partner for PUBG, as its influence in the Chinese market will help Bluehole navigate any resistance from the government. In October, Bloomberg reported that China's Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association believed the game's values would be, "harmful to young consumers."

In a blog post, Niko Partners Daniel Ahmad highlighted that a ban would be unlikely due to its sheer popularity - 40 per cent of the game's total active players are in China - but an official release would require some changes to be made. Before this deal, PUBG was was available through Steam, unlicensed, which is a "grey area" in China.

"If PUBG was to launch officially, Bluehole would need to partner with a Chinese publisher and submit the game to the SAPPRFT for a license," Ahmad wrote. "If PUBG was to go down this route, we believe that it would be harder for them to get approval without making changes to the game as per SAPPRFT content regulations."

Speaking on Twitter today, Ahmad said that no announcements regarding changes have been made, but, "you can assume they'll change blood color and tone down violence overall."

PUBG will also have to abide by China's regulations around revealing loot box drop rates, though Blizzard came up with a creative workaround for Overwatch.

Tencent currently owns a 5 per cent stake in Bluehole, and the Korean company has been open that the possibility of raising that stake has been discussed. Earlier this month, a buyout was mooted by The Korean Times.

PUBG has now passed 20 million sales, and it has a high of more than 2.8 million concurrent players on Steam.

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Matthew Handrahan

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Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.

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