If you’re the type of person who is even remotely interested in gaming, it’s impossible to avoid the absolute phenomenon that is the emerging “battle royale” genre of gaming. It has taken over nearly all facets of gaming from Steam to Twitch.
The genre, which can simply be described as “Hunger Games: The Video Game,” has been around in the modding community for quite some time thanks to Brendan Greene, aka Player Unknown. However, this idea wasn’t made into its own full-fledged game until Greene, with help from South Korean studio Bluehole Studio, released “Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds,” or “PUBG.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
“PUBG” skyrocketed in popularity after its Steam release earlier this year and currently has the largest player-base that has ever existed on Steam. According to Steam Charts, “PUBG” has 1.4 million current players, well over twice the amount of Defense of the Ancients 2’s current player-base in the second place slot.
There is a simple explanation for this explosion of rabid gamers flocking to PUBG: The game is unlike anything gamers have experienced before.
Gaming, as a whole, is exponentially younger than other forms of entertainment media, and innovation within gaming, such as with “PUBG,” demonstrates how there are still many untapped possibilities when it comes to video games. The “battle royale” genre certainly takes aspects of previous styles of games, such as its third-person shooting mechanics and its tiered weapon system ripped straight from any massively multiplayer online game. However, it’s the format of the gameplay that facilitates a satisfying gaming experience.
This, no doubt, is due to the high-intensity that allows the game to flourish. The idea that it is you and only you against 99 other living, breathing people in a cutthroat fight to be the last one standing is the most heart-pumping experience one will likely ever have playing a video game. The idea that you have one life, one chance to pull out a win allows for a different approach to gaming than your average shooter. In games like “Call of Duty,” players recklessly fly into fights. It’s only a short, few-second wait until their next respawn. In games like “PUBG,” one death, and that’s it. Back to the lobby screen for you.
This forces gamers to think at a higher level. Every time you fly into a game, there are dozens upon dozens of situations that need to be assessed very carefully if you want to succeed. Which weapon should you have equipped? If you do engage, when’s the correct time to do so? Should you wait until the perfect moment or run in quickly to avoid other people noticing the gunfight that is about to take place at risk of bad positioning? These are just a few of the important questions that need to be answered quickly in order to succeed in this type of game. This engaging gameplay is exactly what the video game industry needed.
Of course, with popularity comes copycats, but that’s actually a very positive thing for this specific situation. Epic Games, creators of the popular MOBA “Paragon,” have dipped their hands into the “battle royale” trend, adding their own mechanics from another game of theirs “Fortnite,” differentiating themselves while maintaining the same core feel of PUBG. Most importantly, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” is the first of the genre to hit consoles as well as the first to be completely free-to-play. Due to these factors, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” amassed over 10 million players in only two weeks of being released.
Both the rapid success of “PUBG” and “Fortnite” prove to developers and studios that this type of game is the future of modern gaming, and when it comes to video games, innovation will always rule over stagnation.