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PUBG will change for China and align with ‘socialist core values’

Developer announces Tencent will be their publisher

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds - man and motorcycle at sunset Bluehole
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, South Korea’s PUBG Corp. and Chinese mega-company Tencent have signed a publishing agreement. It will open the door to bring Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds officially into the Chinese games market, but not before changes are made to the game.

“We will do our best to present a great game to the Chinese users in close cooperation with the company,” said C.H. Kim, chief executive officer of PUBG Corp. “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.”

But, in a statement from Tencent translated by Reuters, the gaming giant says that it will go a step further and alter Battlegrounds to better align with “socialist core values, Chinese traditional culture and moral rules.”

It’s not entirely clear what that means.

Reuters points out that Tencent’s competitor NetEase has accomplished something similar by adding actual government propaganda to the game, adding “red banners into its battleground ... with slogans such as ‘safeguard national security, safeguard world peace.’”

How precisely similar messaging will be shoehorned into a last-man-standing, Hunger Games-style arena combat game is anyone’s guess. Suffice it to say, however, that Battlegrounds will look and feel a little different overseas.

Following a string of high-profile investments and acquisitions over the past several years, Tencent has grown to become one of the largest game companies in the world. Late last year, it purchased the remaining equity of Riot Games. It also has an investment in Activision Blizzard, Epic Games and Clash of Clans developer Supercell. It has a Steam competitor called WeGame and distributes Candy Crush Saga in China. Recently, Tencent even made a significant investment in developer and publisher Paradox.

PUBG Corp. was recently spun out of Bluehole, the original developer of Battlegrounds. That game arrived on PC in March and rapidly rose to occupy the top slot on Steam. To date it has sold more than 20 million copies. It’s scheduled to arrive on Xbox One next month.

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