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PUBG: Battlegrounds, the PC and console version of the battle royale shooter series, is making a lot of money following its switch to free-to-play in January, as revealed by developer Krafton’s latest earnings report published Friday.
According to the report, on PC, sales were up 61 percent year over year to $82.3 million. On console, the sales jump was even bigger, increasing 124 percent from the previous quarter and 274 percent year over year, though Krafton didn’t put a dollar figure behind those increases. The game also saw a “nearly tripled” increase in average monthly active users from Q4 2021.
PUBG: Battlegrounds was originally a paid title when it launched on Steam in early access in 2017, but the outsized financial success of free-to-play battle royale shooters like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Apex Legends proved that the free model can be quite lucrative. To give you an idea of just how lucrative, EA said this week that Apex Legends, a game that has been out for a little over three years, has surpassed $2 billion in lifetime net bookings. And Epic raised $144 million for Ukraine relief from just two weeks of Fortnite proceeds.
So for Krafton, switching PUBG: Battlegrounds to free-to-play was likely a pretty easy decision. And the popularity of PUBG: Mobile (which is also free-to-play) probably helped; Krafton says that game, which has been downloaded more than 1 billion times as of March 2021, earned $307.1 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2022, a figure that was up 5 percent year over year.