OK, so it may be a bit too early to sound the alarm but according to the numbers, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has shed players for the first time. The game's stellar growth in China seems to have stopped as well and we're not sure that the company’s launch of two free PUBG mobile games in China is helping.
As far as numbers go, this might very well be the first bad news for PUBG. As you can see, the game has reported steady growth since launch, selling 7 million copies and hitting 400K concurrent players by August. From that point onwards, it only got better. By October 2017, the number of concurrent PUBG players was in the ballpark of 2 million. Come January 2018, the game registered more than 3 million Xbox players alone, in spite of the persistent issues and not even the 30fps limit seemed to matter.
Even though the game's popularity in China is through the roof, the game's growth there has stopped, judging by the numbers. This is where things get a bit complicated though, due to Tencent handling distribution there. It is yet unclear whether players are waiting for a localized version or have simply grown weary of the game, even though all signs seem to be pointing towards the former.
The skyrocketing growth of PUBG in China seems to have stopped. I wonder if it's because Tencent picked up the game, so the gamers are waiting for the local launch and/or hoping for a free-to-play version? pic.twitter.com/mzhkyabgm8— Steam Spy (@Steam_Spy) January 31, 2018
Having said that, the general consensus still seems to be that this has been long time coming. PUBG officially launched back in December 2017 but the game still has a long way to go before shedding the reputation of a “broken game”. Players have long been complaining about sub-par performance, graphics issues, all sorts of glitches and the list of complaints just keeps growing.
Cheating has been a thorn in PUBG Corp's side and the company banned as much as 1 million cheaters in January alone. Tencent has been busy as well, reportedly helping the Chinese police arrest as much as 120 cheat makers. Unfortunately, the rushed implementation of in-game anti-cheat methods and other improvements caused a host of other problems, with some not having been resolved to this day.
As we said - it's still too early for definitive conclusions but we'll know soon enough whether we're talking about a minor hitch or the end of PUBG’s "golden age".