With the recent influx of upcoming AAA games adding battle royale modes, I wanted to sit down with a few of my gamer friends and discuss the past, present and future of this genre.
Before I start writing about the discussion we had, let’s look at some of the history of battle royale first.
The last man standing aspect of video games has been there long before battle royale has become a video game genre itself. After the release of the movie Hunger Games in 2012, a similar game mode was developed for Minecraft (called Hunger Games, later renamed to Survival Games).
Then came ARMA 2 with the mod DayZ created by Brendan Greene, also known as “PlayerUnknown” online. When DayZ went to become a separate game, Greene took Battle Royale mod to ARMA 3. The name for the mod was inspired by a Japanese movie of the same name from 2000. He continued to develop this idea also for H1Z1 until later he became a creative developer in the company Bluehole, where he worked on a standalone version of Battle Royale, now widely known as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG for short.
It was not the first battle royale game but when it launched its early access in March 2017, it got a lot of attention and it got popular pretty quickly, making it the best new trend in video games in 2017.
That kind of brings me back to the topic outlined by this post’s headline. It’s been over a year since PUBG has been released and since then the genre has grown and many other developers of either new or existing games tried to hop on that battle royale bandwagon. Most notably, Fortnite added a free-to-play battle royale mode to their existing game in September 2017 and with the building element from the original game in place, it’s become PUBG’s largest competitor.
Another notable example includes Radical Heights, released in April 2018 for early access, with its quirky 80s gameshow theme. Unfortunately, Cliff Bleszinski, the owner of Boss Key Productions who developed the game, announced shut down of the studio. In his words, Radical Heights battle royale game was “too little, too late” and the development of the game has stopped.
Before I get into the whole discussion with my friends, I’d like to share my own opinion. Clocking up almost 400 hours of PUBG on my PC on the live servers alone, you can tell that I’ve had an obsession with that game for a while. I don’t know when it happened or how but I slowly started to lose interest in the battle royale element. Maybe it has coincided with the release of the War mode events but all I play on PUBG now is the War mode (more on that topic in a future blog post, so stay tuned). Battle royale no longer interests me. And that’s fine.
Some companies have opted to include battle royale element into their established franchise (Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, GTA Online, Dota 2, Paladins, Fortnite) and brand new games have sprouted up as well (Fractured Lands, Mavericks: Proving Grounds, Fear the Wolves, Ring of Elysium, Realm Royale, Darwin Project, Radical Heights). To me it feels like the market is becoming oversaturated with battle royale games and modes, everyone wants to jump on the trend and earn some money. I think that the genre is slowly dying, much like the zombie game genres of a few years prior.
I feel like any new upcoming games or modes are just beating a dead horse. Time spent on developing battle royale mode (or trying to reinvent the mode with new elements or themes) on established games could have been better spent to improve the base game.
I was a little bit disappointed when EA announced a BR mode for Battlefield V on the ongoing E3 conference. I thought they were well established, the BF games that I play (BF4 and BF1) are great and in my opinion they do not need a battle royale mode. For me personally, it just doesn’t fit into the World War 2 concept. That being said, I love Battlefield and will purchase the next title. As long as battle royale is not the centre focus but a game mode I can avoid, I’m happy with that.
The discussion I had with my gamer friends regarding this topic was really fun, I love getting others’ opinions on stuff that I’m interested in (reason why this blog was even launched in the first place).
Most of my friends thought that battle royale games are oversaturating the market, the genre is just a fad that will eventually die (one of my friends wants it to die already :D). My friend E said that whether we like it or not, it’s a cash cow for game development companies but they’ll move to another big thing once this genre is dead.
My friend A thinks all BR games are extremely similar. So if you get bored of one, you will eventually get bored of the others.
My friend Z was definitely a fan of the original Fortnite game before Battle Royale came along. He says that they basically neglected the original game in favor of BR. And I have to add on to that: if I hadn’t seen Z streaming the original Fornite game before, I would have thought Fortnite is just another BR game. So when you say ‘Fortnite’ now, everyone thinks of the BR mode and not the original PvE game. Which is a little bit sad to me.
My friend J, always the optimist, loves BR games and doesn’t think the genre is dying at all. 😀
What about you? Do you think the battle royale game genre is dying? And why/why not? Is the gaming market oversaturated with BR games? How do you feel about established maintstream games like COD and Battlefield adding battle royale modes? Definitely let me know in the comments below and we can start a new discussion!