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Can PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Remain Popular Long-Term?

Something for PUBG Corporation to think on is the fate of H1Z1. One one of the title's game modes, King of the Kill, sat extremely close to PUBG. As a matter of fact, it's where PUBG head honcho Brendan Greene cut his teeth and was extremely popular as a Steam early access game, even getting its own CW livestreamed eSports tournament. However, PUBG has been able to push above and beyond what H1Z1 could achieve, partly by delivering a more accessible and immediately interesting experience.

Another example of this is Star Wars Galaxies. The MMO saw release over a year before World of Warcraft, but a mixture of missing features and some truly inaccessible gameplay for newcomers stopped the game from growing. World of Warcraft was able to easily dwarf the player base of Galaxies, and the changes made to the Star Wars MMO over the years ended up failing to bring in major numbers of new players and also drew complaints and allegations of betrayal from long-term fans of the game.

Instead, World of Warcraft is a great example to follow: a core gameplay loop that was easy to get to grips with, and with enough steady changes to keep players occupied, keeping the game fresh when faced with competitors such as The Lord of the Rings Online and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. Meanwhile, from a purely shooter perspective Overwatch shows a clear model on how to provide incremental change alongside maintaining an exciting main hook for new players.

However, Overwatch also provides one negative example that PUBG will want to avoid. Although the game's microtransaction business model has been lauded as one of the better ones on the market, it's still a symptom of the overall video game loot box problem that has been pervasive in the industry as a whole. PUBG also offers loot boxes, and already these have started to gather a little controversy, with some of the rarer items having ridiculous drop rates of their own.

Overwatch may have avoided controversy for its microtransactions, and PUBG may also manage to dodge this bullet, but that is not always the case. One major example of how microtransactions can kill a game's momentum is Evolve, the asymmetrical shooter from former Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock. The title had a hugely popular beta testing period, and a lot was expected of it when it launched proper.

However, that perception changed upon release. The game arrived with a huge array of DLC available, which left a sour taste in the mouths of players unimpressed by the lack of gameplay variety as a whole. That, mixed with limitations on how well the game worked out in the wild world of random online multiplayer, resulted in the game seeing a shocking drop-off in players, and the game eventually jumped to a free-to-play model that also failed to set the world alight.

Evolve team

In short, players need - and deserve - to feel supported. It's something that Turtle Rock didn't quite manage, and it's a problem that other games have also struggled with. Destiny 2 may have been one of the top trending video games of 2017, resulting in some huge sales figures and extremely strong launch reviews, but a series of poor behind-the-scenes decisions from Bungie has left players unimpressed, and as a result the game has not had the same reach as its predecessor.

PUBG has something that both Destiny 2 and Evolve lacked, though: the sense of being unique in the marketplace. Although other games exist in the Battle Royale arena subgenre, PUBG is seen as the pick of the crop, having helped popularize that style of multiplayer gameplay more than any other game around. There's a significance behind this, and as long as PUBG stays grounded then there's every chance that its success can continue.

In short, PUBG Corporation needs to keep gamers at the heart of its decision making. Those performance issues need to be fixed, and gameplay variety needs to grow at a rate that keeps the current player base happy. Moves like banning 100,000 cheaters will hopefully keep the game's community a less toxic place, but there's still work to do to make sure that PUBG remains a permanent long-term gaming fixture. As long as the team's focus remains in the right place, though, there's every chance that PUBG will continue as a serious force in the industry.

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