Krafton plans to extend PUBG supremacy with franchise growth, graphics revamp


Krafton has more in store for its battle royale shooting game PUBG, its biggest mobile title, according to Goldman Sachs.

The South Korean firm is plotting “incremental updates” to its strategy to sustain and expand PUBG, Goldman Sachs said in a note Wednesday and seen by TechCrunch.

The game publisher is planning to franchise its IP by launching a diverse genre, platform and play mode, the investment bank said. A major graphics upgrade is also in the works, Goldman Sachs said, adding that Krafton plans to use Unreal Engine 5 for a PUBG 2.0 revamp.

The current version of PUBG uses a customized version of Unreal Engine 4. Epic Games’ latest iteration of the ubiquitous Unreal Engine offers developers significant advancements in achieving heightened realism and immersion at reduced performance costs. Unreal Engine 5 provides streamlined tools to create state-of-the-art visual effects and sounds while optimizing workflows across gaming and other applications – paving the way for more dynamic and detailed next-generation experiences, according to industry experts.

Krafton confirmed to TechCrunch in a statement that it is considering “various attempts” including the application of Unreal Engine 5 for the “sustainable growth of the PUBG: Battlegrounds IP.”

The phenomenal rise of PUBG in recent years has taken the gaming world by storm. This online multiplayer battle royale game pits up to 100 players against each other in a fight to the death across vast maps riddled with abandoned buildings and forests. Its tense, unpredictable gameplay has attracted tens of millions of users and sparked a worldwide craze.

Goldman Sachs projected a positive outlook for PUBG’s PC and mobile apps as well as BGMI, the new India-only battle royale title launched last year. PUBG PC reached a peak concurrency of 600,000 users post the recent update (Rondo in December 2023).

“We observe BGMI maintaining its #1 position in gross ranking, which we interpret as users starting to believe in a ‘full return of BGMI.’ As Krafton increases investment in the local market (e.g., esports event, localized promotions), we believe BGMI should continue posting robust revenues, and hence we bake in 2023E/24E/25E revenue of W77bn/W152bn/W157bn (6%/11%/12% of mobile revenue; reflecting BGMI unban),” Goldman Sachs added.