There is no denying that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has been hurt by the success of Epic Games' Fortnite, and once players look at the actual numbers, they are pretty damning. Despite popularizing the Battle Royale genre, the shooter game has seen its player count dip by over 50% since the beginning of the year. In January, PUBG managed to peak at over 3.2 million concurrent players. Less than half a year later, and Bluehole's marquee title is averaging just over 1.4 million users daily.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' downward turn in popularity has happened while Fortnite has ascended into the mainstream. The two games have had a tumultuous relationship since Epic Games launched their Battle Royale mode late last year, and they are now involved in a legal battle with PUBG Corp. over copyright infringement. Over the past several months, Fortnite has seen several gameplay overhauls, had a crossover event with Marvel, and even teased its first vehicle, which has all helped in establishing the game as one of the top titles today.
It's been a slow, but steady, decline for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' player count this year. By the end of February it had lowered to around 2.8 million, according to Steam Charts. In April, it finally sunk below the two million player mark, and it hasn't managed to rebound aside from one good weekend in early May. Now, it's finally below 1.5 million, and the trend continues downward.
Despite these worrying numbers, PUBG is still an incredibly popular game. In fact, it's still the most played game on Steam by far, and its concurrent numbers beat out all other titles on Valve's gaming platform. While stressing that PUBG is far from dead, Bluehole has to be worried about losing such a drastic amount of players in a short amount of time. Losing 50% of active players is a huge deal, even if there's still millions of people playing the game every day.
There are a few key factors that have contributed to the loss of all those players. A big one is that PUBG's key competitor, Fortnite, is a free-to-play game. Therefore, if more casual gamers are trying to get into the Battle Royale scene with friends, it's a much easier to start playing Fortnite than it is to play PUBG, and it helps that Fortnite is practically on every major platform out there. Players have also lost trust in Bluehole over loot box concerns, as they sell keys to unlock the loot boxes for real money (which can then be sold on the Steam market afterwards). Add to the fact that quality improvements have been slow in development, whereas Fortnite gets special events and sizable overhauls practically every week.