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Peacekeeper Elite, also known as Game for Peace, by Tencent Holdings.

Tencent’s PUBG Mobile rakes in US$226 million in May, continuing streak as highest-grossing mobile game globally

  • PUBG Mobile’s revenue rose 41 per cent year-on-year in May, topping Sensor Tower’s ranking of global mobile game revenue for the ninth straight month
  • Honour of Kings, also by Tencent Holdings, was second place with US$204.5 million in gross revenue
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Mobile , the popular game by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, pulled in over US$226 million in revenue in May, continuing the game’s streak as the highest-grossing mobile game worldwide, according to Sensor Tower.

App analytics firm Sensor Tower reported that PUBG Mobile’s revenue in May represented a 41 per cent year-on-year increase. The game has topped the firm’s monthly rankings of mobile games in terms of overall worldwide revenue for nine straight months since last September.

Tencent’s other blockbuster mobile game – Honour of Kings – came in second in the ranking, bringing in US$204.5 million in gross revenue in May, up 42 per cent year-on-year.
Gaming companies like Tencent, the world’s biggest gaming company by revenue, saw a surge in users due to more people staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, with the industry seen by some analysts as among the biggest beneficiaries of the lockdowns.
Games revenue across all platforms in China was roughly 30 per cent higher in the first quarter of 2020 than the same period last year, according to estimates released in April by Niko Partners.

Behavioural changes from pandemic could sustain gaming, e-commerce boom

But before the pandemic, PUBG Mobile was already on track to become a huge global hit. It surpassed US$1 billion in revenue last year when combined with its mainland China version, Peacekeeper Elite , according to earlier estimates by Sensor Tower. The international version of PUBG Mobile was also the most lucrative Chinese mobile game outside China in 2019, pulling in US$776 million, Sensor Tower data showed.

Meanwhile, a strategy game by another Chinese tech giant, Alibaba Group Holdings, saw its best month ever in May. Three Kingdoms Strategic hit US$85.4 million in overall revenue and ranked sixth in terms of overall revenue globally last month, Sensor Tower data showed. This pushed its total revenue since it was first released last September to US$491.4 million, according to Sensor Tower.

Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.

Chinese mobile games featured prominently in Sensor Tower’s global rankings for May, with four out of 10 highest-grossing games developed by Chinese companies. Aside from PUBG Mobile, Honour of Kings and Three Kingdoms Strategic, Rise of Kingdoms by Shanghai-based Lilith Games also made it to the top 10, coming in at ninth place.

Chinese gaming companies, including Tencent and NetEase, have been looking to increase overseas revenue, partially to offset increased regulation in the domestic market.

However, they still rely heavily on the Chinese domestic user base for revenue. According to Sensor Tower, 95 per cent of Honour of Kings' revenue came from China in May while PUBG Mobile saw 53 per cent of its revenue come from China – through Peacekeeper Elite – in the same month. Three Kingdoms Strategic is currently only available in China.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Tencent’s PUBG Mobile tops game sales ranks in May