At one point in time, the battle royale genre was a little thing, something that was popular among a bunch of PC players. But now it’s become one of the biggest in the world, thanks to two particularly big titles. Both PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite‘s battle royale mode surfaced in 2017, and they immediately drew millions of players across the board.
These titles have since gone on to make millions — even billions — of dollars in the industry. And both of them have gone through changes over the years. But the real question is, have they improved? Or are they still just running around the same old routes? Let’s look at each game and see just how much they’ve grown over the years.
When Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene first launched PUBG alongside his team, it was with a single map — Erangel. This became a familiar locale with die-hard players of the game. However, over time, it didn’t feel like the team was making enough changes to it to keep gamers interested. Sure, it improved physics and other technical details to make gameplay flow a little smoother (not to mention to do away with accidental deaths from something as simple as a small jump). But players wanted more.
It didn’t take long for the team to add a second map into the mix, Miramar. This instantly became a favorite in the community, and not just because of its newness. The team had taken the time to design it with isolation in mind, so players could get in firefights from afar or track down adversaries.
More maps, more modes, more fun
The PUBG Corp. team continued to add new content in the years ahead. These included even more maps, like Vikendi, Sanhok, and Karakin. Additionally, modes became more varied, including the addition of Duos, Squads, and the new 8v8 PUBG Arcade mode. Finally, as part of the game’s fourth season, PUBG Corp. opted to add a narrative. Yes, to a battle royale game. And surprisingly enough, it worked, mainly because of the dark angle they took in telling it.
As far as crossovers go, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has had some pretty big ones, though obviously not as grand as Fortnite‘s. Still, it made do with events tying in with Suicide Squad, Resident Evil 2, and Mission: Impossible Fallout. Even with these, however, PUBG Corp. managed to keep the core gameplay intact, without going too far over the top.
While PUBG has seen some impressive growth — particularly onto new platforms like consoles and mobile — it has continued to stay true to its fundamentals. The idea of competing against others remains a pivotal point within the game, and with its same silly PUBG style. It may not be the top dog in the battle royale arena, but it still has lots of life left in it. And with its new deathmatch mode, it should stay that way for some time.
Epic Games’ mighty behemoth has made a whopping $1.8 billion this past year alone. That’s a bit down from the $3 billion it earned back in 2018, but it’s still enough to keep business booming.
After initially launching with a “Save the World” mode following years of development, Fortnite really hit the jackpot when it launched its own battle royale mode. Millions of players dove into the game and didn’t look back, mainly due to its easy-to-grasp gameplay and the variety of goods buyable from the in-game shop.
The streaming session that changed the game
But that’s not all. The game also took off as far as pop culture goes. Back in March 2018, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins made streaming history with an all-star session of the game featuring R&B star Drake. Millions tuned in and couldn’t stop talking about the moment. For good measure, the game also made an appearance in the 2019 movie Avengers: Endgame, with Thor trash-talking a younger gamer for good measure.
Along with leaving its mark in pop culture, Fortnite won over fans with a number of additions. These include key clothing and accessories from different franchises, such as the NFL, Batman, Birds of Prey, Star Wars, and Marvel properties. Among these was a huge crossover event in summer 2018, where players could temporarily control the mighty Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet. It left a mark on the playfield that many fans found hard to shake.
Let’s start anew
But while the game was a colossal hit, Epic Games felt the need to change things up. So, back in October 2019, it did just that. It sucked everything players knew about the game into a black hole for several days, leaving them speculating on what was to come. Just a few days later, Fortnite: Chapter 2 came to be.
The next part of Fortnite‘s saga and its many changes became well-received by fans. These included a new map to venture across, various new activities (like fishing), the ability to use boats as vehicles, and other little tweaks. It continues to draw in a big audience today, even years after its launch.
An esports champ
For that matter, Fortnite has also extended its reach in the esports scene. Back in July, it held the Fortnite World Cup, with $3 million up for grabs in the tournament. Eventually, 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won the whole thing, making a name for himself. But, more importantly, Fortnite continued to cement its name in culture, with millions of viewers tuning in.
Fortnite‘s path to success took a much different route than PUBG. However, as a result, it’s become a cash cow for Epic Games, who is not likely to stop milking it for some time. That means more promotions down the road for 2020, like the one it’s currently hosting for the WB film Birds of Prey.
Growth, with more to come
So there you have it. Two games, two completely different success stories. PUBG managed to find appeal within its audience while adding fundamental content and expanding its community. Meanwhile, Fortnite made a name for itself with excellent crossovers, a much-needed Season 2 revamp, and gameplay tweaks to keep fans coming back. Both continue to leave their mark in the gaming world, and they aren’t likely to back down in the months to come.
Now, the only question is if any competitors can truly step up to join them. A few have come close, like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Realm Royale. But it may be a bit until we see the next great battle royale champ rise up.