PUBG might be the king of the battle royale genre on PC. And Fortnite is the most popular battle royale title in the USA. But on mobile, globally, there are other contenders for the number one spot in the free-for-all shooter genre. From anime crossovers to 120-player royale rumbles, these are the four most popular battle royale games worldwide that you might’ve never heard of before.
Garena Free Fire
First launched in September 2017, Free Fire was one of the earliest PUBG clones in the mobile market. But it quickly solidified its position as Asia and Latin America’s “definitive” battle royale experience on mobile. This is thanks to its accessible system requirements that lowers the hardware entry point, fast-paced 50-players free-for-all matches that lasted for just around 10 minutes, and a hero system with passive abilities instead of just skins for your characters. According to App Annie, Free Fire became the most downloaded mobile game in 2019 beating other shooters like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile.
No, this is not a game adaptation of the whodunit movie (or vice-versa). This is a particular mobile battle royale game that’s extremely popular in Japan. It’s so popular, it did many crossovers with well-known Japanese IPs such as Attack on Titan, Evangelion, Tokyo Ghoul, and The King of Fighters. Even Kenta Fukasaku, the writer of the Battle Royale movie, wrote Knives Out‘s ‘Final Battle of Tokyo’ expansion and recruited by the developer NetEase to be the game head consultant. It also got PS4 and Nintendo Switch ports to appease the Japanese console players.
No one is 100% sure why Knives Out managed to beat PUBG and Fortnite popularity in Japan. Back in 2018, the game grossed an estimated $465 million worldwide beating Fortnite‘s $455 million profit according to Sensor Tower. But their release dates might be one of the key factors of its success. Riding on the original PUBG trend on PC, Knives Out was quickly released in November 2017, while Bluehole and Tencent had to wait until February 2018 to launch PUBG Mobile, and Fortnite was much later in April 2018.
Rules of Survival
NetEase tried hard to bank in the battle royale craze they even did a two-pronged attack on the mobile market. First, they released the standard mobile battle royale fare with Knives Out. And then a bit later launched Rules of Survival that allows 120-players to play together in a single map. Although they got sued by PUBG Corporation in early 2018, at the end of the day Rules of Survival gained 280 million players worldwide in 2019 and is still available for download to this day.
In May 2018, NetEase decided to release a PC port via Steam. But unlike the free-to-play version on mobile, on PC the game was released with a price tag that includes one bonus skin and a Monthly Pass.
Game for Peace / Peacekeeper Elite
Based on information compiled by Niko Partners, in early 2018, Tencent was testing PUBG Mobile in China. But out of nowhere, the games suddenly closed and directed players to download a new game called Game for Peace. Fortunately, players were able to transfer their PUBG Mobile data to the new game. Unfortunately, this new “alternative” was censored to hell and back: there’s no blood splatter when you get hit or hit others and your character will just wave their hand peacefully rather than dropping dead after being killed. Guns don’t kill people, apparently. Later after they rebrand the game into Peacekeeper Elite, they also removed the silly death animation and made your character disappear in a puff of green smoke instead.
Those are the four most popular battle royale games aside from Fortnite and PUBG. Have you tried any of them? Share with us your thoughts about them and mobile gaming in general in the comments below.