PUBG could get a ‘socialist makeover’ in China

Tencent will “make adjustments to content ... and make sure they accord with socialist core values, Chinese traditional culture and moral rules”.

Tencent’s agreement to become the Chinese publisher of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in the region could result in some drastic changes to the game for Chinese players.

The English language press release about Tencent and Bluehole’s partnership quotes Tencent’s senior VP Steven Ma as saying: “PUBG is currently the most popular survival shooter game, and is enjoyed by users all over the world. Tencent will localize and operate the game by catering to the preferences of Chinese gamers. We will also offer a different, fun experience on PC.”

However, Reuters’ translation of the Chinese release reads a little differently.

PUBG faced the looming threat of a possible Chinese ban earlier this month after the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association declared that it is “too bloody and violent” for sale in the country, “deviates from the values of socialism” and is “deemed harmful to young consumers”.

Now the company has said that it will “make adjustments to content ... and make sure they accord with socialist core values, Chinese traditional culture and moral rules”.

Reuters points out that Tencent rival Netease has inserted red banners carrying slogans such as “safeguard national security, safeguard world peace” into its title Wilderness and Terminator 2.

Tencent will run PUBG’s Chinese servers and has also vowed to help combat the game’s problem with cheaters. Recent measure introduced by the developers seem to have already led to a noticeable reduction in cheating, but any steps to eradicate it completely will be welcomed by the userbase.

Talk of Tencent acquiring PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developer Bluehole has been doing the rounds for quite some time, with claims that Bluehole previously rejected an acquisition offer prior to the PUBG explosion. However, as Bluehole’s value continues to soar, rumours suggest that shareholders may now be veering back towards the idea of a sale.

In addition, an IPO is believed to remain impossible while Bluehole founder Chang Byung-gyu (who is also its largest shareholder) continues to serve as chairman of the Fourth Industrial Revolution committee, as he would almost certainly face calls of exploiting his position.

In September Bluehole confirmed that it was in discussions with Tencent about a possible equity acquisition, having just the month before denied such reports.

A PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds spokesperson did confirm to MCV’s sister site Esports Pro, however, that Tencent does not currently own a stake in either Bluehole or the more recently formed PUBG Corp.