PUBG’s global downloads has shrunk by more than 26% in September, data sourced from Sensor Tower shows. In early September, the Indian government had banned the Tencent-backed gaming app in the country which was one of the top contributors to its overall download numbers.
While the previous three months – June, July and August – had turned out to be the best months for PUBG in India in terms of gathering downloads, the complete blocking of the gaming app in the country appears to have hurt its numbers.
The app garnered around 10.7 million downloads globally in September, a 26.7% fall in the number of installs from 14.6 million in August. The popularity of PUBG in India was at its peak during June and July when it had garnered 25 million and 18 million downloads respectively.
It’s worth noting that India has been contributing around 30-35% to PUBG’s overall downloads in the past four-five months and has contributed 24% or 175 million out of PUBG’s lifetime 734 million downloads till June.
According to industry watchers and analysts, the decline in downloads won’t impact PUBG’s revenue. However, they believe that its scale, prospective monetization and valuation will be hit.
“Ban of PUBG in India doesn’t have an impact on its revenue but it’s certainly impacting the game’s reach as India was the largest market in terms of downloads,” said Rishi Alwani, co-founder of gaming-focused publication The Mako Reactor.
“PUBG’s ecosystem enablers such as tournament organisers and streamers are the worst hit due to the ban. Over 80% of their revenue has shrunk over the past month.”
This appears to be an unintentional casualty of the ban as PUBG was responsible for enabling its surrounding and allied ecosystem to make money from its popularity in India.
The clash on the border between India and China had triggered public boycotts of Chinese-origin products in early June following which the Indian government banned 59 apps with links to China citing security concerns.
PUBG had managed to survive the first clampdown by the Indian government but eventually got blocked on September 2.
While PUBG has been trying to get back in India and reportedly held talks with Reliance-owned Jio Platforms, according to Entrackr sources the talks have been off now.
“PUBG is in early conversation with Airtel for handing over distribution rights to the telecom giant. This desperation shows that PUBG has been trying hard to get back into the Indian market,” said one of the sources on condition of anonymity.
“The gaming platform is also busy in raising a lean team in India. It has been interviewing candidates with experience of under 4 to 6 years,” the source said.
PUBG and Airtel didn’t immediately respond to Entrackr’s queries.
The void created by PUBG has also given an opportunity to other gaming apps which, on the rebound, received a decent number of downloads in the past month.
According to separate data by Sensor Tower, homegrown Ludo King was the most downloaded gaming app in India in September with 10.3 million installs.
Among Us, an online multiplayer social deduction game published by the American game studio InnerSloth, has cornered around 9.5 million downloads followed by battle royal game Garena Free Fire with 9.4 million downloads during the period. Carrom Pool and Bubble Shooter were also in the top five gaming apps downloaded in India with 7.6 million and 6.5 million installs respectively.
India, which has not been able to produce an alternative to PUBG, may see an app called FAU-G that is expected to go live this month and will be a tough test for the app as it tries to woo India’s faithful PUBG gamers.