PUBG’s groundbreaking popularity is all about the adrenaline, baby

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds assumed a mod for a zombie survival game DayZ (itself a mod for milsim ARMA2) to an instantly successful Steam Early Access standalone in 2017. The game was inspired by Japanese action movies Battle Royale, in which a collapsing society sends students out to kill each other until only one remains. It’s a theme that crops up for countless hours every day in games like: Fourteen days, Apex Legends, war zoneand of course, PUBG. But it all started with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. While opinions can differ on which game does it best, PUBG and battle royales seem to have remarkable staying power.

Why Are Battle Royale Games Still So Popular?

After getting into shooters in the early 2000s, I’ve seen trends and entire genres come and go, often within a few short years. I was curious as to why battle royales so far seem to retain their appeal for both players and stream viewers. So I asked PUBG Creative Director Dave Curd on what he thinks is behind this ongoing momentum.

“Survival of the fittest,” he told me, is a simple, “universal,” and “intoxicating” premise. With this concept, a battle royale game speaks directly to each and every player, not only with a set of rules to be followed, but also with the enticing prospect that they might end up being “the best”. The genre offers you, the player, a direct challenge to get out there, make the best of the situation and make wise decisions in the moment. The result is a game that is very unpredictable from moment to moment, but still has very clear conditions for victory.

“One game is like, ‘Here are 100 players, who’s the best? Are you better than these other 99 people?” said Curd, is a direct and simple call to action where the idea of ​​being the last person on the field is “intoxicating”. He also drew parallels to real life. “I think the theme of survival of the fittest,” Curd said, “[is] Universal- [and] refers to the human condition. I think that’s in the zeitgeist. Everyone seems to be there for themselves. It’s a tough world. It’s a scary world.”

That sense of surviving against everyone else in an unforgiving world, Curd noted, wasn’t necessarily a strong part of previous first-person shooters. “Growing up, games couldn’t really capture that fiction,” he said. “I remember when I came [just] 6v6 in a room felt good.” But those older multiplayer shooters gave players different conditions for success, and therefore asked them a different question. Battle royales strip away their abstracted rules and simply challenge you to survive and be the best.

There’s no sticking to territories, defusing or planting bombs, choosing the right hero or operator, or even capturing flags. In their place, there’s a concentrated twist on what we once dubbed Deathmatch, but with a single death that sends you out of contention and player counts running into triple digits on a massive map; The resulting scale and feel tells a very different story. The scale also means, as Curd said, “no two games are the same. There are amazing ups and downs. In PUBG, the player stories are so varied with gimmicks, the auto flips, the one kilometer long headshots. It excites people.”

These amazing ups and downs create a generative narrative for both the player and the viewer. As Curd told me, the genre’s observability is as much responsible for its success as the excitement people feel while playing the game, and many players stay to see the ending even after they’ve lost, just to see how they fare madness develops.

A player opens fire on other players in a pickup truck.

Picture: Krafton, Inc.

Battle royales are just as exciting to watch as they are to play

Watching others play was something that personally took me a while to get into and really “get” apart from looking around at competitions gloriole occasional tournaments, never saw the appeal of watching other people play. That changed when I started playing battle royales. Although I almost always lose, I can’t help but stick with it to see who gets the upper hand and how.

Curd echoed that sentiment. “I had a very similar feeling,” he said. “I kept working call of Duty for five years before I found my way PUBG and I’ve never really been interested in watching other people play, because the thing is, I just want to play. When I sit, I want to shoot. I don’t want to watch others shoot. But join PUBG and to know that we had such a vibrant community it’s like, okay, let’s try these streamers. And I got totally sucked into the drama. And then it’s like, okay, during lunch I’m going to eat at my desk and see if this streamer can make the top 10. That was the first [game] I wanted to watch.”

Perhaps the simple premise is why it works so well for viewers. Viewers do not have to understand abstract rules and can more easily imagine in these moments and later try it out for themselves. Curd seemed to suggest just that. “[Viewers] watch their favorite streamers have these [amazing] Moments, and then they have to go online and see if they can do it themselves,” he said.

The future of PUBG and battle royale games

Everything has a beginning and an end, right? While the continued momentum of battle royale games seems to signal that the end of their popularity is nowhere in sight, I was curious what Curd thinks about his future and from what role PUBG hopes to play.

For Quark, improvements to PUBG aim to “cleanse the adrenaline rush” of the genre. But what does that look like? PUBG‘s 2023 roadmap that Curd shared with kotaku, aims to lower the barrier to entry. This includes an overhaul of the tutorial system, but also some new gameplay additions, like a teammate revive system. Purists may resist even the idea, as they’ve played a lot of team-based games war zone Personally, I find that Revival is only as effective as the team that pulls together and uses it strategically. We’ll see how it plays out PUBG.

In addition, Curd highlighted some other areas of interest, such as an overall weapon rebalancing and a tactical gear refresh. The data shows that players are currently reaching for weapons more directly and don’t want to bet on consuming a weapon slot for gear that doesn’t have as much direct use. Adjustments to tactical gear appear to be part of the developer’s broader ambition to make folks who die often and struggle to land every shot (like me) feel like their choices matter and that they’re having just as much fun can like players who accumulate the kills. Finding more utility with in-game objects, Curd says, is about finding ways “to give players other resources to create an effect that’s not just good for headshots [and] making sure players can start exploring a roster and playing roles.”

A first-person perspective shows players with weapons moving forward in a snowstorm.

Picture: Krafton, Inc.

For PUBGCurd said the game’s development will follow the team’s “love.” [of] Pushing the boundaries of game modes and what it means to be a Battle Royale. But ultimately, the “simplicity of BR […] gave him his staying power.”

A battle royale that “can make that adrenaline rush even stronger,” Curd said, is on the right track. Meanwhile, Curd’s team is pursuing a battle royale vision that aspires to be “more uncut, higher-octane [experience]push the players to their limits of despair, where their triumphs can be even higher… that’s where we need to go.” PUBG’s groundbreaking popularity is all about the adrenaline, baby

Curtis Crabtree

Curtis Crabtree is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Curtis Crabtree joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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