There’s no denying that PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds Mobile (PUBG Mobile) is the most popular Android game of 2017, riding on the popularity of its Windows and Xbox One versions. And while those versions were developed by different companies, PUBG Mobile owes its popularity to excellent optimization for all kinds of Android devices by China-based Tencent Games. And this incredibly popularity has led to tournaments around the game that are raising the financial stakes to huge levels, with the announcement of a tournament with a prize pool of $600,000 (approximately Rs 4.35 crore).
That’s not the only major tournament around the game; a campus tournament for college students in India was also recently announced in collaboration with Oppo, with a prize pool of Rs 50,00,000. Between these two tournaments, that’s a lot of money riding on a video game, essentially proving that if you’re that good, you could potentially build a career out of playing video games.
The concept of eSports isn’t new, and considering the popularity around gaming and the ease of access thanks to widespread smartphone penetration, it’s growing in popularity. Incredibly enough, eSports even made its debut at the 2018 Asian Games, an event reserved thus far for more traditional forms of sports and athletics. And while it’s unlikely that violent games such as PUBG will be promoted in tournaments such as the Asian Games, they do have their own popularity.
For gamers, it’s a chance to turn your hobby and idea of blowing off steam into a legitimate profession, although to be fair it’s not a career that will benefit more than a figurative handful of people financially. A lot of us, as young children, may have envisioned a life of playing video games, but reality and some likely sensible advice from our parents soon showed us that video games aren’t a way to put food on the table. Until now, of course, where gaming is being given a strong platform alongside sports.
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PUBG Mobile’s popularity in India owes a lot to its being particularly well optimized for the Android platform. Because of this, it’s the ideal marketing vehicle for smartphone makers, who can tout their devices as being ‘powerful enough to play PUBG Mobile’ by jumping onto tournament bandwagons. Oppo is sponsoring the PUBG Mobile campus championship, while the recently-launched Honor Play touts its GPU Turbo software-based technology as supporting PUBG Mobile for a superior gaming experience.
Given the popularity of the game, it makes complete sense to market a product for it, since it not only appeals to users who want to play the game but also sends a very specific message – if this phone can handle PUBG Mobile, it can handle anything. And perhaps that’s why there’s so much – people, money and reputation – riding on the growing phenomenon that is PUBG Mobile.