‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ is coming to mobile, but there’s a catch

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is among the most popular games of 2017 even though it hasn’t “officially” released, but as of December, the game is only available on PC and Xbox One. That will soon change, however, as Chinese company Tencent will be releasing a mobile version of the game.

The new mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will be a joint production between Tencent and the original game’s development team, and it will, at least initially, only be available in China. The goal is for the mobile experience to be as close to its PC and console counterparts as possible. In the announcement, Tencent said that the game’s shooting controls and “social networking” — likely referring to in-game messaging — would be optimized for mobile devices.

Tencent is no stranger to the mobile gaming space, and it’s possible that the mobile PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds could eventually make its way outside of China. The company’s Honor of Kings, which has a player count of over 200 million people, will be releasing for the Nintendo Switch in other regions as Arena of Battle. Though it would likely be too taxing on the Switch’s hardware to run the full version of Battlegrounds, it’s possible the mobile version could come to the platform. With the Switch still selling like hotcakes, it’s a user base itching to get its hands on another big-name multiplayer title after the success of games like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has already sold more than 13 million copies in its early access state, and it managed to break a concurrent Steam user record with nearly 3 million people online playing at the same time — that’s more than twice the record set by Dota 2 in 2016, and more than eight times the number of concurrent Grand Theft Auto V players. It has only continued to gain, well, “steam” since then, and with its launch on the Xbox One, sales should be substantially higher. The console version of the game will offer a similar experience to its PC sibling, and Xbox One X players will be able to take advantage of HDR support. The game will launch as part of the Xbox Preview program on December 12.