What made PUBG so successful in Pakistan?
By Sairam Hussain Miran 20 Sep, 19
Although console and PC gamers will always consider themselves superior, there is no denying that Battle Royale games like PUBG and Fortnite have certainly empowered the mobile gaming industry in Pakistan like never before. From school common rooms to work breaks, from kids barely old enough to use a phone to veteran shopkeepers, you will find mobile gaming deeply embedded into our society ever since PUBG Mobile came out in February of 2018.
PUBG and Fortnite took the entire world by storm when they reintroduced a genre of gaming which was alien to most of the industry. Naturally, the public jumped on the bandwagon when they saw what was trending. However, rarely does it happen that a concept successful in the West, almost immediately blows up in the East as well, and that too in far higher proportions than expected. Pakistan, India and Nepal recently went through what the mainstream media likes to call a ‘PUBG Addiction’. In fact, this addiction spread like a disease, and it led to India and Nepal completely banning the game in their countries! Moreover, Pakistan’s ISPR released its own ‘Glorious Resolve’, whether as a competitor or an alternative, we will never know, but according to reviews, it was certainly not even half as impressive!
PUBG’s sudden rise to the top of the massive South Asian market triggers the questions: Why is it that PUBG Mobile is thriving in our part of the world? What does a handheld device game give us that consoles or PCs cannot offer? After all, Battle Royale is not a new concept by any means.
The answer to those questions lies in the sheer convenience by which the game provides pure entertainment. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for game developers, South Asia (India in particular) has a massive population, and a lot of it is uneducated. This coupled with the low per capita income means that masses cannot possibly grasp or afford complex console or mobile games. PUBG is free and simple; 100 players play, last one wins. All you need is a mobile with only 2GB of RAM, which is the norm nowadays, even in the lower-middle class. Tencent made the game accessible to the masses and consequently struck gold.
The game has definitely made its mark permanently by giving birth to the idea of cheap, high quality and lag-free online mobile gaming. Before this, high quality and lag-free just did not go in the same sentence for the typical mobile gamer here in Pakistan.
Today, PUBG has over 400 million downloads and 50 million daily active users. There are competitive PUBG tournaments happening in gaming zones all over the country, most prominently at the Dew Gaming Arena 2019 where Team Bablu was crowned the PUBG Champion of Pakistan.
Pakistanis did not skip on the opportunity of enjoying the experience of cheap yet console-like gaming, and the lower class took benefit from it just as much as the elite did. It is safe to say that regardless of the bans and the shoes thrown by desi moms, PUBG Mobile was certainly the number one source of entertainment for Pakistanis for the better part of the last year or so, I mean a PUBG group chat just did not die down in those long Ramadan days!