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PUBG Mobile devs remove offensive weapon pack and AI bot, issue apology

PUBG Corp has been forced to apologize twice after players of the mobile battle royale game spotted perceived references to the Imperial Japanese Army.

Published onJuly 19, 2018

PUBG art
  • The PUBG Mobile development team have removed a weapon and mask pack from PUBG Mobile.
  • The pack contained a pilot mask with a decoration resembling the Imperial Japanese Military’s “Rising Sun” insignia.
  • PUGB Corp apologized and issued refunds, but quickly came under fire for another perceived reference to Japan’s military regime during World War Two.

The team behind PUBG Mobile has been forced to apologize twice after players of the hit battle royale game spotted perceived references to the Imperial Japanese Army.

The controversy kicked off over the past weekend following the release of a new, premium weapon and armor pack. The flight helmet included in the bundle appeared to be decorated with a red rising sun symbol — an insignia that is seen as offensive in some parts of Asia due to its connection with Japan’s imperial military during World War Two.

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Following a backlash from Korean players, reported by Bzit, PUBG Corp removed the pack from sale. Those who had already bought the pack received refunds (of around $2.4) and an in-game message claiming that the pack contained “a previously undetected bug.”

“We apologize for causing concerns over a pilot mask item,” read a statement from PUBG Corp on an official fan channel (via The Korea Times). “We will conduct an overall re-examination of our image production process to prevent such a recurrence.”

PUBG Mobile rising sun mask and gun removed

Unfortunately for the PUBG team — which is owned by South Korean publisher Bluehole — an Asian streamer spotted an AI bot with the tag “Unit 731.” For those unaware, Unit 731 was the name of a unit in the Imperial Japanese Army that developed chemical weapons and was responsible for horrific experiments on Allied prisoners of war and other war crimes during World War Two.

Once again, PUBG Corp apologized, stating (via Kotaku): “We will enhance procedures to scrutinize game items before their releases and hold the person in charge responsible.”

PUBG Mobile launched on Android (and iOS) devices back in March and instantly shot to the top of the charts on the Play Store. While the free-to-play title, which is an adaptation of the PC hit PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is by far the most popular battle royale game on Android, it has yet to be challenged by gaming’s hottest property of the year, Fortnite.

Fortnite Mobile hit iOS devices in April but fans are still waiting for Epic Games’ crafting-centric take on the battle royale genre to launch on Android. Epic has previously teased a “summer” release, so expect to hear more in the coming weeks.