Many issues ago over in the A&E section, I wrote a little column about how the “battlegrounds” genre of video games was the next big thing in gaming. The game mode, which can most simply be defined as “Hunger Games” but with a bunch of heavy weaponry, began its climb to popularity when Brendan Greene (also known as “PlayerUnknown”) took the idea to the mainstream with help from Korean publisher Bluehole studios in the form of “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG).
As you stand alone at the end of a match, knowing that you fought, clawed and most importantly outlasted 99 other real-life people, that feeling of ultimate triumph is one that is impossible to create in any other type of environment. With the success of this type of game came many others who tried to take that same feeling of “you vs. everyone” and maximize its potential.
In comes Epic Games’ “Fortnite: Battle Royale.” “Fortnite,” as a base game, was very different from the battlegrounds game mode that PUBG fans were familiar with. However, after realizing that their client was ripe to incorporate the battlegrounds genre, Epic Games released “Fortnite: Battle Royale,” the name paying tribute to the genre’s original inspiration, the Japanese film “Battle Royale.”
When “Fortnite” dipped its toes into the genre, fans of PUBG scoffed as they sipped their stale coffee and Mountain Dew from their gaming chairs that cost more than the computer I’m using to type this. “Fortnite,” while essentially being the same type of game, was much more accessible and casual. The smaller map size relative to PUBG made for more relaxing experiences and also allowed for less downtime of endlessly running either to the next destination or into the next safe zone. It was written in the coding very early on: “Fortnite” was for casuals. PUBG was for hardcore gamers.
As of Feb. 8, “Fortnite” surpassed 3.4 million concurrent players, topping the concurrent player-base of PUBG. It’s not crazy to assume that 10 percent from PUBG was partially responsible for that bit of a spike “Fortnite” received.
How did a game that was so revolutionary begin its decline so quickly?
First of all, “Fortnite” is 100 percent free-to-play on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. PUBG costs a whopping $29.99 and is only available on PC and Xbox One.
Secondly, PUBG is notorious for having less-than-acceptable server quality, leading to a lot of ruined experiences simply due to an unstable environment. “Fortnite” has its share of bugs and glitches, but after many patches and updates, the game now runs crisp and clean, looking better than ever, and the bugs are to a minimum.
Lastly, I believe that the atmosphere of the gaming industry has a lot to do with this trend as well. With giants like Activision and EA being more and more transparent with their greed and mismanagement, many gamers are looking to indie developers who make quality, throwback games for a fraction of triple-A prices (“A Hat in Time” and “Cuphead”) and companies like Epic Games and Hi-Rez Studios (developers of other free-to-play games like “SMITE” and “Paladins”) that put out detailed, worthwhile content for absolutely free.