PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is no more in China, as the suspiciously-similar Game for Peace has taken its place as the premiere battle royale shooter from Tencent. New content rules for games from the governments have effectively rendered it impossible for the original PUBG to legally exist as a game under the rules; as a result, Tencent has proverbially filed off the serial numbers and replaced the game with a title more palatable to the government’s censorship demands.
At its surface, Game for Peace looks like a different game. Backed by the Chinese airforce, the mobile title has cadres of brave soldiers taking on terrorists. The removal of corpses and blood along with the positive military theme has garnered government approval, allowing Tencent to monetize Game for Peace in China as of April 2019. While this is certainly good news for Tencent stockholders — shares jumped 2% after the announcement — it’s nonetheless a strikingly similar game to its predecessor.
“It’s almost exactly the same,” said IHS Markit games analyst Cui Chenyu. “The [gameplay], the background, the graphic design[,] and the characters, they’re almost the same.” She stated that user reviews of the app indicate that it’s very similar to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that it was created by South Korean developer Krafton, the company formerly known as Bluehole that was involved with the development of the original PUBG.
Tencent, conversely, told Reuters that Game for Peace and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are “very different genres of games.”
The similarity of the two titles was further emphasized when former PUBG players installed the app and found that their progress from the original game had automatically transferred over to the new title.
The changes to accommodate Chinese content censorship demands have also had the unintended consequence of being absolutely hilarious. “I’m going to die of laughter,” said one Weibo user speaking about the title. “When you shoot people, they don’t bleed, and the dead get up and wave goodbye!”
Ultimately, Game for Peace may just be a band-aid to allow Tencent to generate revenue in China. A spokesman for Krafton says that the company is looking into PUBG’s status in the country but otherwise declined to comment further.