If you thought the PUBG Mobile craze in India is dying, you couldn’t be further from the truth as the title and its community have only been growing at incredible rates in the country. In June of 2018 the game recorded a landmark figure with 50 million players across the world. In 2019, the player base is at over 100 million without including China. When Tencent pulled the game from the Chinese marketr, the Chinese player base was peaking at 70 million. The game itself has over 400 million downloads worldwide.
The booming player base, thriving community and sheer volume of downloads has led to PUBG Mobile redefining the Indian gaming as well as esports industries both in front and behind the scenes. It has also opened the doors for content creators, casters, professional players and live streamers and it's fair to say that Indian audiences are hooked to anything and everything PUBG Mobile.
And with the numbers, comes the money with streamers such as Dynamo Gaming closing in on 5 million subscribers. And along with the rise of streamers and content creators, there is also a growing movement towards the professional competitive side of things. While there are sceptics behind the “Mobile Games aren’t esports movement”, it hasn’t stopped PUBG Mobile from having a thriving competitive environment in the country which caters to casual players, amateurs, semi/aspiring professionals and top players.
The mobile esports boom is coming if not already here. Titles like PUBGM, MLBB and Clash Royale are massively popular and professional organization, Entity Gaming have already picked up a player in CR and a team in PUBGM. It’s only natural for other orgs to follow suit.
In the PMCO India Qualifiers, Team SouL came out on top and earned 60,000 USD. Along with the 2,500 USD from the PMCO Spring Split finals, this amounts to just over 43 lakh INR. Even after taxes each player will take home near about 7 lakh INR. 7 lakh INR is still a fair amount more than what a fresher with a college degree would earn.
But that’s not all. These were earnings from one tournament. It’s likely that SouL will compete in many more tournaments this year like the PMIT, PMSC, Peacekeeper Elite Global Invitational and the PMCO Fall Split. On top of the prize money, their players earn a very respectable amount via streaming as well. Their IGL, MortaL is one of the biggest Indian PUBG streamers with over 2.6 million subscribers. If anything, performances at the PMCO and constant presence at international tournaments will only help grow their fanbase and popularity.
MortaL is one of the countries most recognized PUBGM players and won the fan vote at the PMCO by an overwhelming amount
The PUBG Mobile India Tour recently kicked off its online qualifiers. In October, when a winner emerges at the LAN, they will receive a whopping 71.4k USD or 50 lakh INR in prize money.
PMIT has a prize pool of over 1 CR INR
So it’s a viable career only if you are the best team? No. Not necessarily. BR games like PUBGM have a significant amount of luck and RNG involved. Even the best teams may not be able to win every tournament. But the trick is consistency. If a team is able to finish in the top 3 constantly, they will still make a decent chunk of money. 2nd and 3rd place at the PMCO India qualifiers were worth 30,000 USD (INR 20.7 lakh) and 20,000 USD (INR 13.8 lakh) respectively. At PMIT it’s 20 and 10 lakh INR for 2nd and 3rd.
But let’s look even further. To reach a level of consistency and skill that top teams have requires time, effort and experience. Is there a way to sustain themselves while working towards their goal? Absolutely. There are innumerable weekend tournaments and leagues for various levels of competition. The prize pools for these range from a few thousand to even a few lakhs. These are fertile grounds to test your skills, get some practise and experience and yes even earn some serious bucks.
Indian ticketing platform BookMyShow showcasing PUBGM events
In 2018, an estimated 1.01 Cr INR was paid out in terms of prize money in PUBG Mobile. We are in August of 2019, and already more than 2.3 Cr INR has already been announced. We are estimating that well over 3 Cr. will be paid out in terms of prize money in 2019. In fact, the number will most likely be much higher, since it's very hard to factor in the huge amount of weekend tournaments, community-organized events, local/collegiate events and even influencer focused tournaments. This influx of money will further accelerate its popularity and its likely that we come to a place where PUBGM prize pools are higher than other titles combined.
And let's face it, PUBGM’s majority player base consists of teenagers and college students, who are also pursuing real jobs, education and careers while keeping the game a hobby. Most of them have family support and the resources to lead their lives without needing to worry about earning money to sustain themselves.
The PUBGM boom in India has been incredible to watch and has certainly opened doors for many youngsters to pursue a host of options that weren’t realistic earlier. Competitive gaming is certainly one of them but just like any sport, only the best of the best are picked up by teams and go on to make a fulltime career out of their talents. For the rest, it’s just recreation. And that’s exactly the point here. For most people, games, be it on the mobile or on the PC is for recreation but a select few are able to turn this into a career. But for this to happen there needs to a tiered system where even players who are just getting into the competitive system have a shot of earning money and getting noticed. And as of now, it's safe to say that in India, for PUBGM, this system exists.