PUBG Case Study – 9 Secrets of PUBG Business Model

PUBG Wiki

PlayerUnknown BattleGrounds a.k.a. PUBG is a survival shooter game developed by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of the famous South Korean Video Game development company – Bluehole.

This game was first released for Microsoft Windows platform via Steam in March 2017, and the full version was rolled out in December 2017 after beta testing.

Currently, PUBG game is available for the Microsoft Windows, Xbox, PS4, and Android/iOS mobile operating systems.

With over 400 million worldwide users and more than 100 million active users combined across all platforms, PUBG is one of the best-selling, and most played shooter games.

PUBG Wiki

Title PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Developer/Publisher PUBG Corporation
Release Date December 20, 2017
Platforms Microsoft Windows, Xbox, PS4, Android and iOS
Gaming Engine Unreal Engine 4
Genre Battle Royale/3D Survival Shooter
Mode Online Multiplayer (Solo, Duo, Squad)
Directors Brendan Greene, Tae-Seok Jang
Producer  Chang-Han Kim
Artist Tae-Seok Jang
Music Composer

Tom Salta

PUBG Income

After seeing the massive success of this game, people often ask how much money does PUBG make.

But before that, you must understand how does PUBG make money.

Selling game license (for Microsoft Windows, Xbox, and PS4), In-App Purchases, advertisements, and brand collaborations are four primary sources of PUBG income.

PUBG charges $29.99 for Microsoft Windows or PS4 versions and $19.99 for Xbox version.

While PUBG was able to sell only 2 million copies in the first few months after the initial release in March 2017, the number of cumulative unit sales jumped to 50 million by June 2018.

PUBG cumulative unit sales by June 2018
PUBG Cumulative Unit Sales by June 2018

PUBG ranked on the top of the premium games segment with $1.028 billion in annual revenue for 2018 that does not include free-to-play mobile versions. (Source: Superdata)

That’s a hell lot of money.

Getting into a billion dollars club is a definitely proud moment for any video game business, isn’t it?

Other sources, including IAP and ads, contribute a significant percentage of total revenue.

Although the amount earned from the mobile app is not enough to take place in the top 10 list of free-to-play video games, the combined revenue would most likely put PUBG among the top-grossing gaming titles of 2018.

9 Success Mantras of PUBG Business Model

PUBG Case Study Pinterest 735x1102px
PUBG Case Study

1. Social Nature of Game

PUBG is one of the top-grossing games because of its social nature.

You might ask how a survival shooter or a battle royale game can be social.

Yes, it is.

PUBG has brought many people together, especially old friends.

This game has provided live text and voice chat during the game, which makes it more special. I have observed that gamers meet virtually and discuss different things that would otherwise be not possible.

2. Realistic Gameplay

PUBG Realistic Gameplay Miramar
PUBG Gameplay

Realistic gameplay of PUBG is the prime reason to make it popular.

Gamers want to relate themselves to the character they’re playing. In PUBG, it matters a lot because of the game type – survival shooter.

You can run, swim, jump, drive, fire, hide, and even die during the game similar to the real world.

Using realistic properties including residential apartments, warehouses, bridges, dockyards, trees, vehicles, farms, towers, weaponry, and overall environment makes people feel that they are a part of the actual gameplay.

Dynamic weather and laws of physics like gravity, recoil are a treat for game lovers.

3. Engaging Elements

PUBG is a perfect example of how to create a product that drives engagement and leads on demand.

Since an engagement plays a vital role in the success of any product, PUBG developers have added various engaging elements in the game.

“Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” is not just a tagline for PUBG players, but the goal of the hour.

Character customization and cosmetic upgrades are a couple of more things where gamers spend most of the time apart from the gameplay.

4. Creativity

PUBG Wiki PUBG Creativity
PUBG Creativity

Although the Battle Royale concept is not first used in the PUBG, it’s a creative concept in video game history.

I have played hundreds of shooter games, but PUBG is different from its counterparts. Even after playing for about a year, I don’t get bored playing the same Erangle map.

The character, property placement in the map, weather, accessories, and sound, everything is used perfectly.

Thanks to the Creative Director of this game – Brendan Greene who has done a mind-blowing job.

5. Continuous Improvement

Many people are complaining that the current version of PUBG Mobile has bugs and lagging experience.

Still, when we see at the development timeline, PUBG has continuously improved the gameplay and added more features.

You can see new maps, guns, vehicles, apparel, emotes, accessories, and cosmetic updates.

Plus, the company has added multiple playing modes, including the latest 4 vs. 4 TDM (The Deathmatch Mode).

PUBG is adding more measures to prevent the mods, hacks, and cheats to make the gaming experience richer and more enjoyable.

6. PUBG Revenue Model

As I mentioned above, PUBG has earned more than $1 billion from the desktop version only. Mobile version is also adding a significant percentage in the total revenue.

According to the reports of Superdata, PUBG has made around $2 billion in 2018, making it one of the best selling gaming titles of the year.

That’s why we must understand the pricing strategy of PUBG.

PUBG is available free for the mobile versions only, and gamers need to pay $29.99 for the PC or PS4 version and $19.99 for Xbox version.

Additional items, including in-game purchases and event passes, may cost you an extra few dollars on the top of the base price.

The mobile and emulator version of the game can be played for free with IAP (In-app purchases) and ads.

Since most of the PC or console players invest heavily on the hardware, buying a gaming license for such a beautiful game may not be a big issue.

That drives a significant percentage of the PUBG revenue.

However, most of the gamers play PUBG mobile to kill time.

So, the PUBG has added a freemium pricing model for its mobile version.

Players can buy UC (Unknown Cash – PUBG currency) and then Royale Pass, Royale Elite Pass, Premium crates for cosmetic upgrades, and much more using UC.

Recently, PUBG announced a monthly subscription for its mobile users and named the plans Prime and Prime Plus, respectively.

PUBG Mobile Prime Membership
PUBG Mobile Prime Membership

This tiered and diverse PUBG revenue model allow users to keep coming back as well as earn a massive revenue each month.

7. Centralized Control

PUBG is not a role-playing storyline shooter, but a survival shooter game that is available to play online only.

By adopting this strategy, the company has centralized control over the game.

The first feature under centralized control is auto-matching of players. Unpredictable auto-matching makes the gaming experience extraordinarily thrilling and enjoyable.

The second one is hack control.

Earlier we used to play Mini Militia – a 2D shooter game. However, many people created mods and cheats that entirely ruined the gaming experience.

Since the PUBG mobile app is synced with the cloud in real-time, PUBG can know who is using mods, hacks, or cheats and ban them temporarily or permanently.

And, the third benefit of this strategy is about better control on revenue, whether it’s In-app purchase or advertisement section.

8. Proper use of G.I.F.T.S. Principles

GIFTS means Greed, Indifference, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), Trust, and Social Proof.

PUBG has intelligently used these principles for their benefit.

  • Greed

PUBG rewards gamers with free cosmetic upgrades and Achievements for playing regularly. To get more items and in-game titles, players spend their valuable time playing PUBG, especially mobile players.

  • Indifference

It helps them to sell more Royal Passes. Free users receive a few goodies compared to the premium users who have purchased the Royal Passes.

It creates an impression on the mind of players that they need to buy the Royale Pass and other accessories to look different or better than others.

  • Fear of Missing out

PUBG uses the FOMO principle perfectly.

This game has a concept of seasons with a ranking system and accessories related to it.

The player may miss the items upon failing to collect those items under a specified timeframe.

A similar strategy applies for Royal Pass mission that gives cosmetic upgrades for weapons, vehicles, custom apparel designs, and emotes after completing the specific tasks within the specified time.

You may also get a reward for daily login that helps PUBG to connect with players all the time.

  • Trust

PUBG uses social login and tries to keep user data safe for most of the time.

It ensures players that no one can manipulate their in-game ranking or steal their inventory items.

  • Social Proof

When you look in your friend-circle at least a few of them might have heard about PUBG.

Over 400 million downloads for the mobile version and more than 100 million active users on steam as well as mobile version describes the success story of PUBG.

Do we need more social proof?

9. Community Building

Any product or service becomes powerful with its community. PUBG has received lots of love and positive feedback from its users.

Even today, WOMM is the top marketing channels for PUBG.

I clearly remember that I was playing Mini Militia, and one of my friends came and showed this game to our group.

Our group members who were avoiding playing PUBG that day due to its file size are the ones who play this game for the maximum time today.

Yes, there are critics and haters for this game too.

However, millions of supporters are the backbone of PUBG.

PUBG is also developing more features and better gameplay for its users.

Last but not least – PUBG has opened new opportunities for the people who want to work from home.

Professional players/streamers promote this game heavily because the audience loves to watch their favorite gamers playing PUBG.

It generates more revenue for them and free publicity for PUBG. Plus, those viewers join the league without any hard-selling.

Conclusion

PUBG introduced a smart business model and earned millions in revenue by understanding the trends.

Although PUBG does not appear on the top of the chart of free-to-play games, it dominated the premium games market with more than $1 billion revenue in this category.

Continuous improvement and understanding the customers’ demands have helped PUBG to achieve this success.

Finally, PUBG is proved that the success of any business is in pushing the right product at the right time to the right audience.

Don’t you think so?


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