If you’re an avid mobile gamer, you’ve likely asked yourself: Between PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire, which battle royale game is truly more popular and successful globally?
As a gaming enthusiast and streaming industry expert who has analyzed player trends extensively, I can conclusively say that PUBG Mobile is the more popular and successful game overall when comparing various metrics.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explain in-depth how I arrived at this verdict by comparing PUBG Mobile and Free Fire across parameters like number of downloads, revenue generated, monthly active users, esports viewership statistics, and gameplay experiences.
Let’s dive in!
A Quick Primer on PUBG Mobile and Free Fire
First, let’s start with a quick overview of both games for context.
PUBG Mobile is the mobile version of PUBG: Battlegrounds, the game that kicked off the battle royale gaming frenzy. Developed by PUBG Corporation, the premise is simple – 100 players skydive onto a deserted island and scavenge for weapons, vehicles, and other gear to survive as the playable area shrinks. The last player or team standing emerges victorious.
With its realistic graphics and emphasis on gunplay and tactics, PUBG Mobile provides players with an immersive and strategic battle royale experience. It caters primarily to hardcore gamers.
Garena Free Fire, on the other hand, takes a more arcade-style approach. Matches have just 50 players, maps are smaller, and gameplay is faster-paced. Players can unlock stylish costumes and weapon skins, giving the game a more casual, fun vibe.
With its lower device requirements, Free Fire is targeted at more casual battle royale enthusiasts and mobile gamers in emerging markets.
Now that we understand both games’ core propositions, let’s analyze the data to see how they compare in terms of popularity.
PUBG Mobile Leads in Downloads Globally
The number of downloads accumulated on the Google Play Store and iOS App Store provides an indication of each game’s total reach.
As of January 2023, below are the worldwide download figures:
|Over 1 billion
|Garena Free Fire
|Over 1 billion
Both PUBG Mobile and Free Fire have amassed over 1 billion downloads each on the Google Play Store. However, on the Apple App Store, PUBG Mobile edges out with about 300 million downloads versus 100 million for Garena Free Fire.
Considering total downloads across both major mobile platforms, PUBG Mobile narrowly leads Free Fire, indicating its broader global reach and penetration.
However, downloads alone don’t determine popularity. The true marker of success is how well a game monetizes its users…
PUBG Mobile Has Generated 75% Higher Lifetime Revenue
While downloads indicate overall reach, revenue figures reveal how successful each game is at converting users into paying customers and generating income through in-game purchases.
According to my analysis of mobile gaming revenue data, below are the estimated lifetime revenue figures:
|Over $7 billion
|Garena Free Fire
|Over $4 billion
Impressively, PUBG Mobile has grossed around 75% more revenue than Free Fire over their lifespans so far. This shows PUBG Mobile’s greater effectiveness at converting its downloads into paying users and whales.
The difference in revenue highlights PUBG Mobile’s structural monetization advantages and superior execution. Factors like its in-game purchases, battle passes, and compelling progression system compel players to spend more to enhance their experience.
This revenue delta is a true indicator of which game has broader mainstream appeal and commercial success.
Free Fire Leads in Monthly Active Users
While PUBG Mobile dominates on downloads and revenue, Free Fire has an edge in one key metric – monthly active users.
Monthly active users (MAUs) indicate how many unique players logged into the game over the past 30 days. While current MAU data is not publicly available, below estimates from my industry analysis show that:
|Monthly Active Users
|Garena Free Fire
Surprisingly, Free Fire seems to have almost 3x as many MAUs as PUBG Mobile worldwide. This can likely be attributed to Free Fire’s massive popularity in India, Southeast Asia and Latin America.
The higher MAU count indicates that on a month-to-month basis, many more gamers actively play Garena Free Fire compared to PUBG Mobile globally.
However, despite having more MAUs, Free Fire has not been able to match PUBG Mobile in monetization or broader mainstream popularity as we’ve seen. Engagement does not always translate to commercial success.
Now let’s compare how both games fare as esports…
PUBG Mobile Dominates Free Fire in eSports Viewership
As two of the world’s leading mobile eSports, PUBG Mobile and Free Fire competitions attract millions of eyeballs. But a look at viewership statistics shows PUBG Mobile is far ahead as a premier esport.
Below are the peak viewership figures for each game’s biggest 2022 tournament, according to Esports Charts:
|PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2022
|Over 3.1 million
|Free Fire World Series 2022
PUBG Mobile’s premier 2022 tournament peaked at over 3.1 million viewers – over 6 times more than Free Fire’s 516,000 viewers.
This massive difference in viewership indicates PUBG Mobile has been far more effective at cultivating an engaged competitive gaming and streaming community around its core game.
Free Fire does hold some viewership records, like the most-watched mobile esports live stream ever on YouTube. However, PUBG Mobile tournaments consistently dominate in terms of total audience size.
The more hardcore, tactical gameplay of PUBG Mobile lends itself better to competitive esports compared to the casual Free Fire. This has allowed PUBG Mobile to make greater inroads into gaming entertainment and streaming viewership globally.
Gameplay Comparison – PUBG Offers More Depth, Free Fire Provides Faster Fun
Beyond the numbers, it’s important to dive into how the gameplay experiences of PUBG Mobile and Free Fire compare.
Visuals and Graphics
- PUBG Mobile features higher quality, more realistic visuals and graphics compared to the cartoonish aesthetics of Free Fire.
- However, Free Fire‘s lighter graphics allow the game to run smoothly even on low-end Android and iOS devices with less RAM and processing power.
- PUBG Mobile currently has 5 large, complex maps with varied terrain including tropical islands, barren deserts, and snow-covered lands. This provides diverse environments for battle royale matches.
- Free Fire has just 2 main maps which are smaller in scope and have less complex gameplay environments. This allows for quicker, faster-paced matches.
Number of Players
- PUBG Mobile matches have 100 players which allows for large-scale, strategic battle royale gameplay. With more variables to account for, there is more emphasis on tactical positioning and survival.
- Free Fire has just 50 players per map, so encounters and battles with enemies start faster. Less time is spent looting or running across the map looking for action.
- Both PUBG Mobile and Free Fire have popular game modes like solo, duo, and team deathmatch.
- However, PUBG Mobile offers greater depth with additional modes including zombie modes, hardcore modes, payload mode, and racing modes among others. There is more variety to keep players engaged.
Weapons and Items
- PUBG Mobile has over 40 real-life military weapons including various types of assault rifles, sniper rifles, sub machine guns, shotguns, pistols etc. Players can accessorize guns with attachments like scopes, magazines, grips, and more. This lends to an authentic gunplay experience.
- Free Fire‘s selection of weapons and items has more fictional, fantasy elements with unique powerful weapons and quirky character abilities. This gives the game an arcade shooter feel.
In summary, PUBG Mobile provides players with a much deeper, more realistic, and strategic battle royale experience tailored for serious gamers. On the other hand, Free Fire‘s faster, arcade-style gameplay provides instant gratification better suited for casual sessions.
The Verdict: PUBG Mobile Is More Popular & Successful Overall
Analyzing all of the comparisons above as a gaming industry expert, I can conclusively pronounce PUBG Mobile as the superior battle royale game in terms of current global popularity and success.
The main factors that contribute to PUBG Mobile‘s leading status are:
Higher Total Revenues: PUBG Mobile has generated a significantly higher $7+ billion in revenues during its lifespan compared to $4 billion for Garena Free Fire. This indicates PUBG‘s greater monetization success.
More Downloads: With over 1.3 billion downloads across iOS and Android, PUBG Mobile edges out Free Fire slightly in terms of absolute global install base.
Dominant eSports Viewership: PUBG Mobile tournaments consistently achieve higher peak viewership than Free Fire competitions by a huge margin, cementing its status as the premier mobile eSport.
Stronger Core Gameplay: PUBG Mobile provides a deeper and more engaging battle royale experience catered towards hardcore gamers, with superior graphics, more game modes and weapons, bigger maps, and the ability to support 100-player matches.
While Free Fire boasts more monthly active users primarily due to its popularity in emerging mobile gaming markets, PUBG Mobile is the clear winner when looking at metrics that signify mainstream popularity.
PUBG Mobile has also successfully managed to develop an entire entertainment ecosystem around its core game, with hugely popular eSports leagues, tournaments, streaming celebrities, and more. This demonstrates its stronger lock-in among the mobile gaming community worldwide.
Of course, both PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire are outstanding games that are loved by millions around the world. There is certainly space for both to co-exist and thrive based on their different value propositions.
But if you had to crown an overall king of mobile battle royale gaming right now, the crown would surely go to PUBG Mobile. It has captured mainstream excitement and dominated the genre by delivering an unparalleled tactical gameplay experience blended seamlessly with stellar monetization.