During Tuesday’s Pariksha Par Charcha 2.0, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was told by a concerned mother that her son was addicted to online games, and was neglecting his studies. The Prime Minister replied, “PUBG wala hai kya?” to the great amusement of the audience. What is the PUBG game that the PM was referring to?
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds — or PUBG — is an online multiplayer battle royale game that is currently so hugely popular that at least one state government (Gujarat) has initiated steps to educate young students on the bad effects of playing the game, and sought the Centre’s permission to ban it altogether. There have been calls for a ban on the game from politicians and students groups in Jammu and Kashmir as well.
In a PUBG game, 100 players jump on to a battlefield of their choice and try to collect supplies and ammunition that would help them survive. The game has several maps or stages, and players must kill each other while staying within the safe zone circle in order to stay alive. The last person standing is the winner, and gets the metaphorical chicken dinner.
PUBG has a rival called Fortnite which, like PUBG, was launched in 2017, and has a similar format. But PUBG Mobile was the most popular game on Android last year, according to Google Play’s Best of 2018 awards.
In India’s esports circuit, PUBG Mobile has grabbed all the attention. Some esports tournaments for PUBG in India have sponsor companies offering rewards up to Rs 1 crore.
The game, owned by China’s Tencent Holdings, already has 200 million daily active users worldwide. PUBG is available on gaming consoles like Xbox and on personal computers, besides mobile.
Given the widespread use of smartphones, the mobile format of the game has gained popularity in India. The company, however, does not give out country-specific user data, and the precise number of PUBG Mobile players in India is not known. Affordable data packages are likely to have played a role in boosting PUBG’s popularity. But the game is around 1.6GB in size on Android, which is considerable space on a mobile phone.