KRAFTON, Inc., the South Korea-headquartered creators of the PUBG: Battlegrounds, the PC and console version of the battle royale shooter game, is basking in success as the first quarter of 2022 saw a steep surge in its profits. The company attributed this success to switching to the free-to-play model.
Krafton has not put a dollar figure behind the rise. The official report released by the company shows that it’s on PC, sales have risen by 61 percent year over year to $82.3 million. Meanwhile, profits were higher on console, witnessing a jump of almost 124 percent in Q1 2022 compared to Q4 2021 and a 274 percent surge in its year-over-year gains.
The South-Korean gaming giant PUBG: Battlegrounds adopted the new free-to-play strategy to attract more players to the game on January 12, 2022, while paying players continued to be given added benefits. As a result, the number of monthly active users almost tripled in the first quarter of 2022 from Q4 2021.
The press release by Krafton said, “During Q1 2022, the PUBG IP showed balanced growth on each platform. As a strong number of legacy users returned to the game following PUBG: Battlegrounds’ transition to free-to-play (F2P) in January 2022, average monthly active users (MAU) nearly tripled compared to Q4 2021.”
PUBG: MOBILE recorded revenue of $307.1 million during Q1 2022, up 30 percent Quarter over Quarter and up 5 percent Year over Year. These increases were driven by several in-game IP collaborations and robust live service systems.
International markets (outside South Korea) drove 95 percent of KRAFTON’s Q1 2022 revenue. The company has contributed to developing the local game industry in India by strategically investing in the country’s IT and media ecosystems. Accordingly, Battlegrounds Mobile India sustained an uptrend in market share and sales, said the release.
The popularity of the free to play model
PUBG: Battlegorund was originally released on Steam, a video game digital distribution service, in 2017 as a paid title. The game was called PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds) back then, and users and their friends would have to purchase the game to play solo or together. The game was an instant hit and saw its mobile version launched the same year.
However, the mobile version was free to play; anyone could download it from the Google Play Store or the Apple App. The mobile version generated its revenue from advertisements and a Royal Pass system.
PUBG remained popular as it provided a fair in-game opportunity to its paying and non-paying players, offering no competitive benefits to paying players and perks primarily including cosmetic changes. This game model called the Freemium title picked up, generating substantial revenue from the free-to-play mobile version.
Meanwhile, the PC and Console version was facing steep competition. It was left in the lurch by the success of other battle royale shooter games like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends, which were all free to play, suggesting that the model is proving to be profitable, and this prompted Krafton to go free in January this year finally.