The rise of Fortnite and PUBG: How Battle Royales took over the world


“Welcome back. Well if your children love video games, chances are they’re playing one called Fortnite.”
“Now if your children like video games, chances are they love a new game that’s called Fortnite.”
“Now the latest video game craze is Fornite.”
“It’s huge, it’s absolutely huge. And a mobile phone version of the game is about to be launched
that’s going to of course tighten the game’s grip even more.”
“This is a new game called Fortnite. It’s drawing millions of players and some parents are worrying their kids
are spending way too much time at the controls.”
“Parents say it’s driving them absolutely mad because kids are just so hooked on it.”
“What makes this game different.”
Battle Royale games could be the most popular genre in the world right now.
Between Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the genre is the most streamed and watched
thing on Twitch by just about every metric,
from concurrent viewers, to hours watched to most time streamed.
The genre’s rapid explosion has led to dozens of copycats,
with Battle Royale modes implemented in many games, and clones taking over on every possible platform.
But two games, PUBG and Fortnite, changed everything.
“Epic tells us that across PCs, consoles, and mobile devices. More than 45 million have played the game.”
“At one point last month 3.4 million people were playing at the same time.”
“Streaming gaming company, Twitch says over a billion minutes of Fortnite gameplay were watched last month
alone.”
“Even rapper Drake joined a game, and broke Twitch’s record for the most viewed game stream.”
The Battle Royale genre got its start in the world of mods.
Fans inspired by movies like the Hunger Games built themed mods for Minecraft around 2012.
“Minecraft survival, these are the rules for the players.”
“Only one player can win the survival games.”
“You cannot break any blocks.”
“Except for leaves and mushrooms.”
“You are only allowed place blocks you find in chests.”
“Your inventory must be empty before you start.”
“No player is allowed to enter the host’s house.”
“So those are the rules.”
The idea worked pretty much just like Hunger Games.
A handful of players are set free on an island, starting in front of a pile of weapons and
gear before running into the wilds to kill each other and be the last one standing.
“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
But the concept wasn’t unique to the Hunger Games either.
The Battle Royale concept was essentially kicked off by a book and movie of the same name.
The concept should sound familiar to PUBG or Fortnite players:
42 high school students are dropped on an island, given weapons, and told they have to kill each other
until only one survives.
Inspired by Battle Royale’s take on the concept,
a down-on-his-luck photographer and graphic designer named Brendan “PlayerUnknown”
Greene decided to start making his own Battle Royale mods for zombie survival game DayZ.
Greene switched over to modding the ARMA series for a while, and was eventually brought on
by Daybreak Games to consult on their own zombie survival battle royale game, H1Z1.
Greene then moved on to work with Korean publisher Bluehole to make his very own, standalone
Battle Royale game:
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
PUBG launched in early access in March 2017, and almost immediately blew up.
It made 11 million dollars within three days.
Halfway through April, it hit one million copies sold.
By June it was at four million copies sold, with over 100 million dollars in sales revenue.
In December, not even a year after launch,
PUBG reached 3.2 million concurrent players,
higher than any other game on Steam.
It’s still the most played game on Steam, day in and day out, beating Dota 2 and CS:GO
the former kings of Steam by more than a million users.
“The success we’ve seen has been so insane.
“It’s the most played game on Steam now.
“Right? Like by quite a large margin which is… So I’ve never expected this”
“I think right now, I just keep plowing forward and meeting fans and making games”
PUBG launched unfinished, riddled with bugs, lag issues and horribly optimized performance.
“How do I fall there? There’s a f***ing railing there! How do I fall through the railing?”
It had one map and no way to learn how to interact with its dozens of intricate, interconnected
systems without playing over and
over again.
“And I think that’s what the draw is, that there is no rules there’s no ‘you have to play this way’ it’s just you can
jump in and play and whatever way you want do, if you want to win with a pan you can go ahead.”
By every metric, it should have been a cult hit, something that struck a chord with a
dedicated niche of hardcore players and barely registered outside.
But instead, it turned the industry upside down, and inadvertently created its biggest competitor.
“You know one thing we wanted to look into was like, for example there’s no IP protection in gaming.”
“You know in movies, in music, there’s IP protection. You know that you really can protect your work.”
“But in gaming that doesn’t exist yet.”
Buoyed by PUBG’s incredible success, dozens of Battle Royale games cropped up on steam,
console and mobile, and even big existing games added Battle Royale modes, including Grand Theft Auto.
But only one game surpassed PUBG in popularity: Fortnite.
“This week Fortnite shocked the top of the app charts after private Epic Games opened sign ups
for the iOS version of the Battle Royale mode which is a hundred players, virtually fighting it out until one is left.”
Fortnite was a game trapped in development hell for the better part of a decade.
Originally announced way back in 2011, Fortnite was meant to be Epic Games’ answer to Minecraft.
It was a showcase for the then-upcoming Unreal Engine 4, and tasked players with building
massive forts and protecting them from monsters.
But the game stayed in development for years, delayed by the difficulties that come with
working in a brand new engine, and Epic’s desire to release it through the game-as-a-service
model, with constant updates and tweaks.
“Fortnite is just a very natural next step for Epic.”
“It feels extremely like the right thing for us.”
“Because it is the very next step in making Epic a game company that’s current.”
By 2015, Fortnite development was sidelined in favor of Paragon, Epic’s sci-fi MOBA shooter.
By 2017, Fortnite was finally ready for the public, but people weren’t coming to the game in droves.
It was still the minecraft-meets-shooter-meets-RPG that Epic pitched all those years ago, but fans weren’t biting.
Until, Epic added a Battle Royale mode to Fortnite and spun it off into
its own free-to-play game.
“So we thought if we took Fortnite’s dynamic destructible world, and its unique building mechanics, and then combined
that with what’s best about the Battle Royale genre. That we could create something that was amazing.”
“Fortnite: Battle Royale is the 100 player last man standing PvP experience you know so well.”
“But combined with the limitless world of Fortnite.”
Fortnite: Battle Royale beat PUBG to consoles, and its more arcadey gunplay and kid-friendly
visuals made it far more accessible than PUBG’s military realism aesthetic.
The increased accessibility paid off.
According to Epic Games, Fortnite broke Battlegrounds’ concurrent players record in February 2018,
hitting 3.4 million concurrents.
Meanwhile, Fornite has shot up to being the sixth most watched game on Twitch in the last
year, in only seven months since launch.
It’s also the third most streamed game over the last year.
Battlegrounds is currently beating Fortnite in the streaming wars, sitting pretty as the
second most watched game and the most streamed game on Twitch.
But the explosive growth of these two games
has mystified plenty of industry pundits.
Fortnite’s numbers, especially, put it on track to be the biggest game Twitch has ever seen,
with an average of over 5,000 channels concurrently streaming Fortnite across February and March.
“I have dubbed this Fortnite Mania. We’re in the midst of it, you’re in the epicentre of Fortnite Mania right now.”
“What do you think it was that has triggered this? It wasn’t just Drake and Ninja. Even before that”
“Yeah it was blowing up way before that.”
“You know a lot of people ask that question, and it’s kinda hard to answer that because
we are kind of in the middle of it.”
There’s a few possible reasons for that.
First of all, and perhaps most obviously,
the games are fun.
“What do I do man?”
PUBG, Fortnite and their dozens of copycats have an ebb and flow to their gameplay
that can’t happen in other competitive games.
When the game starts, it’s a rush to get geared up, then there’s a consistent and constant dread
as you continuously make your way to safety, punctuated by explosive gunfights,
all leading up to catharsis, whether that comes in victory or death.
Another reason the genre has gotten so popular is the inherent watchability of Battle Royale games.
That tension comes with a ton of downtime, the kind you don’t get in a fast-paced game like CS:GO
or a mechanically intensive MOBA like League of Legends or Dota 2.
That means streamers get to interact with their viewers and develop personalities
that you don’t get as often in other popular streaming games.
PUBG was directly inspired by Battle Royale, and it carries the film’s structure into gameplay.
There’s a calm intro, a quick rush of action, and then tension that’s constantly cut with combat.
Every game is a movie.
And movies need actors.
“I call it the TriHawk.
Part of the Battle Royale genre’s incredible growth is thanks in part to the immense number
of streamers that broadcast the game on Twitch.
Over the last year, Twitch has broadcast a combined total of over 3,000 years of PUBG
and Fortnite footage, and Twitch viewers have watched over 94,000 years of the games.
PUBG has been buoyed by players like former CS:GO pro shroud, whose incredible plays have
made him a hit on Twitch.
(Stream)
But even players without competitive origins have found success through PUBG.
DrDisRespect is an over-the-top parody of macho ‘80s action movie characters
played by Twitch streamer Guy Beahm, and despite some controversy,
he has emerged as one of the game’s most notable faces, for better and for worse.
“Hey Michael, I’d headbutt your left cheek then I’d headbutt your right cheek
And then I’d headbutt your nose and then I’d headbutt your chest. By that time you probably won’t be breathing.”
Fortnite, meanwhile, has been quickly overtaking PUBG on Twitch thanks to more approachable
personalities, like former Halo pro Ninja,
He’s become Twitch’s biggest star with over 180,000 subs
and gets to play rounds of Fortnite with Drake and Travis Scott.
(Stream)
Of course, Ninja and Drake aren’t the only extremely popular personality playing Fortnite.
Fortnite’s has gained exposure from celebrities playing and tweeting about the game.
And some of pubg’s biggest star’s like shroud and summit1g have also begun streaming Fortnite
in addition to other games.
(Stream)
But neither game is satisfied with where it is right now.
Bluehole is attempting to fix PUBG’s controversial Miramar map,
while adding two more maps to the rotation.
Meanwhile, Epic Games is porting Fortnite to iOS and Android and including crossplay.
Together, PUBG and Fortnite signal the next phase of a massive trend in gaming.
They’re games designed to be streamed and watched, games that have broken record after record,
all without any signs of slowing down.
They’ve brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue,
with the two games combined bringing in an estimated $200 million in January 2018 alone.
Battle Royale games are the most popular games in the world.
And it doesn’t seem like anything can stop them.
(Stream)

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