Earlier this month, Epic Games essentially declared war on Apple over the 30 percent revenue cut the computing giant takes from every app on its ecosystem that isn’t owned by the similarly dominant company Amazon. Whichever side of the fence you sit on in this particular battle, Apple’s grandiose, scorched earth retaliation threatened not just Epic Games and Fortnite, but thousands of games big and small that rely on tech created by the popular development studio.
Over the past year, we’ve posted time and time again of PUBG Mobile shattering records. Daily active users climbing to 50 million, it fostering one of the biggest Discord servers around, and player spending dwarfing other mobile games as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes players back into their homes. But despite being on top of the world in more ways than one, the future of PUBG Mobile continues to be clouded in mystery, as another political feud threatens to curb its growth.
Not long after Epic Games began its (mostly — it is still a multi-billion dollar corporation in its own right) legitimate crusade against the Cupertino monopoly, Apple banned the its development accounts, preventing the company from not only updating its App Store titles (namely Fortnite), but Unreal Engine, the tool used to create it. One knock-on effect of the block meant that other developers would be unable to update their Unreal Engine-based games, leaving not only Epic’s own titles high and dry, but thousands of other developers who had nothing to do with kickstarting the current legal dispute.
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It’s not just indies who use Epic’s largely free development suite. Plenty of AAA titles are based on the Unreal Engine tech, with PUBG Mobile being one of them. If not for a recent injunction allowing Unreal Engine titles to remain on the App Store unaffected while Apple and Epic sort out the mostly Fortnite related debacle, Tencent’s king of mobile Battle Royale titles would be stuck; its big 1.0 update being blocked from going live on some of the devices that run it best.
Though the Apple vs Epic Games debate may not be slamming a nail into PUBG Mobile‘s coffin just yet, it’s one of many near misses the game has had in just a few short months. The ongoing pandemic delayed the usual monthly patch cycle earlier in the year, which could have potentially unseen effects on the game’s internal roadmap for years to come. After that, a military incident on the India/China border had one of the former’s top titles become a dividing subject in a boycott against apps developed in the latter region. Another ongoing threat emerged when Donald Trump threatened to ban Chinese apps, which almost put PUBG Mobile on the chopping block once more.
Despite everything that’s happened in 2020 to cloud PUBG Mobile‘s future, the game has remained online throughout it all, without so much as a statement regarding its questioned availability from its publisher. Political and legal battles continue to, directly and indirectly, drag the game closer to the wheels of a bus. While things seem safe again for now, these are strange times for a game that’s doing so well as to announce another multi-million dollar prize pool for a tournament that might not even have a live audience to hype it up.
Disclaimer: Fanbyte is owned by Tencent, which also runs Tencent Games, developer and publisher of PUBG Mobile. Tencent also subsidizes much of Fanbyte’s PUBG Mobile coverage by covering freelancer budget costs. Those covering PUBG Mobile for the site have no contact with Tencent, however, and are given complete creative control to write whatever they wish.