PUBG Corp Is Suing Epic Games for a Reason: Asian-region Dominance

PUBG Corp suing Epic Games isn't out of spite. It's probably because it's their last line of defense before Fortnite storms Asia.

Do you know how popular PUBG actually is? A look at Steam's top games by concurrent player count is more telling than you might think.

With PUBG Corp trying to sue Epic Games in Korea, the spotlight is on the "original battle royale" game in the West once again, and it is drawing a lot of ire.

Fans of Fortnite and speculators are wondering what PUBG Corp could possibly stand to win from taking on Epic, but the writing may be on the wall for PUBG in the land where it continues to thrive most: China.

From China to Korea

As you may have guessed, those exceedingly high player numbers pictured up there are, for the most part, not based in North America or Europe. They are mostly players based in China, a country where World of Warcraft and League of Legends once reigned supreme. Today, China is PUBG Country.

According to market analyst Newzoo, over 51% of core PC gamers in China played PUBG in February 2018. To keep this in perspective, China had the biggest gaming market in the world with 565 million gamers as of 2017. That's more than the U.S. population of 325.7 million.

So what does this have to do with South Korea, the country PUBG Corp is challenging Epic Games in? Let me ask you: Would you not fight tooth and nail if you thought you were about to fall out of relevancy?

Tencent, which partnered with PUBG Corp to bring the game to the region and to publish two related mobile games, announced in April that they would be publishing Fortnite in China.

Whether or not Fortnite will be able to actually beat PUBG in China is a whole debate on its own that no one can win but time. For the first time, PUBG is going to have to put up a fight where it reigns supreme.

It's also not doing poorly in other Asian countries. In South Korea, 32% of core PC gamers played PUBG in February 2018. In Japan, 30% of the same demographic played in the same timeframe. There is no Fortnite in those regions, either.

The Domino Effect

If Epic Games gets Fortnite into South Korea, it will be the first Asian region to get the game. In theory, if one falls to Fortnite, then all shall follow.

In case you forgot, Fortnite Battle Royale took our market by storm last year. PUBG was the new hotness. It seemed everyone was playing it, and it was breaking records on Steam. PUBG was the game before Fortnite's free Battle Royale mode launched, it really was.

It didn't take long for Epic's alternative to overtake the original, partially due to the hackers rampant in PUBG and partially due to the former being free to play. A game being free goes a long ways.

One can assume the rational fear of PUBG Corp is that Fortnite, which is dominating the West, will rush in and dominate PUBG's home turf to the East. It's not an unreasonable assumption.

We see games as entertainment, but for developers and publishers, games are a source of income. Suing Epic Games to keep Fortnite out of South Korea is PUBG Corps' attempt at stalling or preventing the decline of their game where it matters most.

PUBG's Survival

It makes sense. Any market has an element of survival of the fittest, and the gaming industry is no different.

PUBG's numerous problems are no secret, from rampant cheaters to poor optimization. Its reputation for those two things transcends language. It's well-known for being unpolished and full of cheaters, the second of those two being the bigger issue and the primary knife in the game's back.

In order to succeed and survive, PUBG Corp is going to have to do a lot more than try to stall the competition. They can't expect to continue to survive off their playerbases in Asia without fixing the very problems that are putting the game in the ground elsewhere. It's likely those very problems are going to bite them once Tencent pulls the trigger on Fortnite's Chinese release.

If they can keep Fortnite out of South Korea, they have at least one country they don't have to compete with their nemesis over. It's necessary to PUBG Corp as there is a chance they will lose their hold on the number one spot in China. They need a market they can continue to hold onto -- it really seems as simple as that.

Published May. 31st 2018

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