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Professional gamers are in a tough zone after PUBG ban

September 10, 2020 12:01 IST

While some gamers are looking at alternatives like Call of Duty, most believe these might not become the craze among users like PUBG was.

The central government’s decision to ban multi-player gaming app PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) caught professional gamers and e-sport organisers off guard.

And while some gamers are looking at alternatives like Call of Duty, most believe these might not become the craze among users like PUBG was.


According to GamingMonk, India’s largest e-sports platform in terms of users, it had to cancel 700 PUBG tournaments scheduled for this month.

The company had over 30,000 PUBG players on a daily basis and each tournament’s size could range from a few hundred to even 20,000 gamers.

“But we see a huge influx of users playing similar games on our platform as people ventured into them during the lockdown and also an inorganic push from the game publishers themselves.

"Luckily, only a small part of our revenues came from PUBG.

"I don’t see more than a 10-15 per cent drop in terms of daily users as they will start playing other games,” said Ashwin Haryani, co-founder of GamingMonk.

“However, we can say we have easily at least 500,000 registered PUBG users on the platform.”

The game belongs to the battle royale genre where 100 different players parachute to different locations on an island. PUBG had a 40 per cent share of the genre on GamingMonk, Haryani added.

The start-up said gamers have already shifted to similar games.

Similarly, Trinity Gaming, an e-sports talent management and marketing firm, had to put five PUBG tournaments that were scheduled to happen over the next few days on hold.

The game has over 175 million estimated downloads in India.

The country accounts for around 25 per cent of the app’s user base. PUBG’s monthly revenues from India were estimated to be around $1.5-7 million.

Official numbers are not publicly available.

The ban has also affected professional gamers.

Experts say top professional gamers make around Rs 25-30 lakh a month from YouTube and in-video ads and brand partnerships.

They also make as much as Rs 1 lakh per video thanks to donations and featured comments by fans.

Gaming hardware makers such as Corsair, Nvidia and Asus also pay gamers to endorse their brands.

“Gamers whose entire YouTube or Discord channels were built around PUBG will be severely impacted, especially because their core audience has been following them for their gaming skills.

"They are back to square one and developing similar audience, gameplay or skills in a new game will take months,” said Rahul Singh, chief executive and co-founder of Bengaluru-based marketing firm Winkl.

“Also, this may not result in a ‘Tiktok’ moment for Indian alternatives as it is much more difficult to build games with high-end graphics within weeks.”

Photograph: Thomas White/Reuters

Sai Ishwar in Mumbai