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People visit Tencent's booth at the World 5G Exhibition in Beijing, China November 22, 2019. Photo: Reuters

Tencent’s PUBG Mobile was the world’s highest-grossing game in March amid coronavirus crisis

  • The China market contributed to 61 per cent of revenue, while the US market accounted for 11 per cent, according to Sensor Tower

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Mobile, the popular game by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, recorded a threefold increase in revenue in March compared to the same time last year to become the highest-grossing mobile game worldwide.

PUBG Mobile and its Chinese mainland version Peacekeeper Elite raked in a combined US$232 million of sales in March, topping the global mobile games chart by revenue as many people turned to online entertainment amid the global health crisis, according to data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

The China market contributed to 61 per cent of the revenue, while the US market accounted for 11 per cent, according to Sensor Tower. March was the second consecutive month of record-breaking revenue for PUBG Mobile and Peacekeeper Elite in both the domestic and international markets.

PUBG Mobile’s sales boost coincided with the game’s second anniversary and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has forced millions around the world to stay at home, according to Sensor Tower. The Chinese version Peacekeeper Elite was released last May as a patriotic version after Tencent finally secured government approval to make money from the title.

Tencent bolsters lead in China’s game live-streaming market after Huya deal

Another Tencent blockbuster mobile game Honour of Kings and its overseas version ranked as the second-highest earning game globally by generating US$112 million in revenue, with 93 per cent of this coming from China.

Online entertainment and games companies like Tencent, the world’s biggest gaming company by revenue, have been some of the clear beneficiaries of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Global mobile game downloads shot up 39 per cent in February, with China accounting for a major portion of the boost, earlier data from Sensor Tower showed.

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 Peacekeeper Elite, according to earlier estimates by Sensor Tower. The international version PUBG Mobile was also the most lucrative Chinese mobile game outside China in 2019, pulling in US$776 million.

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