The free, mobile version of hugely popular last-person-standing game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is inching towards international availability after being made available in Canada following its Chinese launch in February.Debuting in March 2017, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (or “PUBG” for short) demonstrated the wisdom of not judging a book by its cover – or a game by its overly lengthy name.For despite its cryptic title, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the refinement of a fight-to-the-finish idea that had been generating excitement in the PC gaming community.Inspired by cult Japanese film Battle Royale and the Hollywood film adaptations of The Hunger Games novels, game designer Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Green had brought the intense elimination format first to a number of unofficial add-ons for other action games before being invited to create PUBG itself.By the end of the year it was the most-played on PC gaming platform Steam by an order of magnitude, then made its console debut on Xbox One.Korean development studio Bluehole tied up a deal with China’s Internet giant Tencent for Chinese distribution of not only PUBG but two official mobile derivatives.By that time, of course, unlicensed PUBG clones were plentiful on iOS and Android, and due to the linguistic and technical issues involved in getting either of the PUBG apps working outside of China, competent imitators have remained in demand: NetEase’s Rules Of Survival has proven a favourite substitute around the world, Garena’s Free Fire another popular choice.Pressure is on Bluehole’s PUBG Corp not only from its imitators but also from US powerhouse Epic Games, whose polished computer and console alternative Fortnite: Battle Royale is starting its mobile launch sequence.An English-language edition of PUBG Mobile has surfaced on Google Play (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tencent.ig), intended for download by Canadian visitors to the service, with an App Store equivalent expected to be on Apple’s App Store before very long.Their presence in Canada likely means that Tencent is in the final stages of preparing PUBG Mobile for a wider English-language launch.Tencent also holds a stake in Fortnite developer Epic.On Android, PUBG Mobile requires a device running Android 4.3, with the Samsung Galaxy J7, S6, S7, and LG Google Nexus 4 among named compatible devices; an Android 5.1.1 device with at least 2GB RAM is recommended. — AFP Relaxnews

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