Every day, I go through a specific routine. Wake up, get ready for the day, then jump on my computer to check what’s trending. Today, I noticed an interesting topic that has been floating around certain platforms (Mainly Reddit and YouTube). That topic is the inevitable demise of Battle Royale games.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite: Battle Royale
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Fortnite: Battle Royale and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds are the two most popular games out there right now. As I’m writing this (1:09 PM EST 4/11/18), Fortnite: BR is the top streamed game on Twitch with 227,405 viewers. PUBG is the third most streamed title with 118,003 total viewers. For those of you who hate math (I’m not a fan either) this means that 345,408 people are watching these two Battle Royale games at 1:00 PM EST on a Wednesday.
These games have hit the mainstream media as well. I’m not going into the mainstream angle of these titles but if you are interested in this aspect, please click here (the link will take you to a YouTube channel called Cleanprincegaming. It is a brilliant channel and the video dives deeper into the success of Fortnite: BR). The main point is that these two games have heavily impacted the direction of gaming, for better or worse. The closest comparison I can make to these BR games, popularity-wise, is the Call of Duty series.
This Isn’t the First Time a Game Has Been this Popular
Let me finish before you call me an idiot for comparing Call of Duty to PUBG and Fortnite: BR. Call of Duty wasn’t always the punching bag it’s known as today. Back in 2007, Infinity Ward and Activision released Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This first-person shooter changed the way FPS multiplayer games were developed over the next few years. The concept was simple. Just point, shoot, level-up, and repeat. This made Modern Warfare so easily accessible that anyone could jump in. It was also extremely addicting to play for hours at a time.
Sounds familiar, right? For years, every FPS multiplayer game tried to copy Call of Duty’s money-making formula. This is exactly what PUBG and Fortnite: BR are doing to the gaming industry today. We have games like The Darwin Project, GTA V Motor Wars, and H1Z1 that yes aren’t as popular but they are all trying to capture some of the same success.
Imitation is Not the Most Sincere Form of Flattery
This is likely to continue throughout the next year. As we approach E3 2018, I have a feeling that we are going to see more Battle Royale titles than ever before. Rumored BR modes for AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Battlefield, and even Call of Duty (it’s funny how things turn out) have been rapidly spreading and it wouldn’t be too crazy to believe that these AAA games want in on the Battle Royale market.
This could just mean that we are getting more BR modes for us to choose from. It’s not as simple as that. When imitation in entertainment happens, overexposure of the original product is guaranteed to follow. Take the zombie game genre for example. The genre was highly regarded around 2008 with games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, and Call of Duty: World at War Nazi Zombies. Today, the genre has been overexposed with lazily made clones of great titles and it may be awhile before it fully recovers.
How Much Will Microtransactions Play Into Battle Royale In The Future?
A major issue I can see in the future regarding Battle Royale modes is microtransactions. All it would take is one Star Wars: Battlefront II controversy for gamers to revolt against your product. Fortnite: BR is already filled with microtransactions and PUBG is likely to fully join them in the near future.
In my opinion, microtransactions aren’t necessarily a horrible thing. In small doses. However, when loot boxes are at the root of your game, it will eventually destroy it. The best example for well-done microtransactions in gaming is Psyonix’s Rocket League. Luckily it seems that most Battle Royale games are following this model. Every item you can purchase is purely cosmetic and there is no way to gain an advantage over your fellow players. As long as the genre sticks to what they’ve been doing, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Call of Duty Is A Cautionary Tale To Steer Away From
This is the last time I’ll mention Call of Duty I promise, but it is very important that Battle Royale games (PUBG and Fortnite: BR in particular) know how this series fell so quickly. As I mentioned before, Modern Warfare changed the way people played and developed multiplayer games. The franchise continued to thrive until they steered away from what had been working for over half a decade. They attempted to evolve with exo-suits, special abilities, excessive microtransactions, and futuristic weapons. This ruined what everyone loved about the series.
Fortnite: BR and PUBG have to keep that in mind. Don’t try to be something you aren’t. What you are doing now is working. It is okay to add maps, skins, modes, etc. as long as you don’t change what made you great in the first place.
Are Battle Royale games doomed to fail? Possibly. Overexposure, microtransactions, and foundation changes can all lead to the downfall of the Battle Royale genre. However, PUBG and Fortnite: BR have proven themselves capable of sustaining success throughout the past year. As long as the genre continues to adapt in meaningful ways, I can’t see why Battle Royale can’t be a mainstay in gaming for years to come.
What do you think about Battle Royale games? Do you think that the genre is doomed to fail? Or can they learn from games that were in their position and continue to thrive? Let us know in the comments and be sure to follow us here at The Nerd Stash for the best coverage of the latest news, reviews and anything else Nerd Culture has to offer.