Is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds the next big thing in gaming?
In perhaps one of the most entertaining gaming experiences currently on the market, Battlegrounds flies 100 players over an island, letting players choose at which point to jump out. After landing, it’s a free-for-all gathering military weapons, ammunition, supplies, and body armor. After scavenging for the best gear possible, it’s time for player vs. player combat engagements and strategy, but tread carefully, there are no respawns. As the map restricts the play area, forcing players closer together on the island, fewer and fewer are able to survive. Whichever player (or team) outlasts the others wins the game, similar to Hunger Games and other battle royale contests.
On the surface, the game’s premise is incredibly simple—be the last player standing. However, through its moderately quick pacing, satisfying looting mechanics, and avoidance of cumbersome elements of some other survival-type games, Battlegrounds has risen to the top of the battle royale genre. The game balances tension and action flawlessly, allowing players time to strategize and coordinate their next moves, but the reasonably short amount of time between each safe zone restriction forces players to be active on the island. Battlegrounds avoids the pitfall of some survival games, in which the time between engagements is far too long.
Battlegrounds’ Rapid Rise to Popularity
Since its March release through Steam’s early access platform, the combination third and first person shooter has amassed over $100 million in revenue on over 4 million copies sold. Though the game has only been available for a few months, it already sits in fourth place in peak player count in Steam history, only behind game giants DOTA 2, CS:GO, and Fallout 4.
Brendan Greene, aka PlayerUnknown, is the lead designer of a team of 30-40 people at Bluehole responsible for the creation of Battlegrounds. Greene has previously designed a few other games and mods similar to Battlegrounds, notably the DayZ: Battle Royale mod, and H1Z1: King of the Kill. Although both games were fairly popular in their respective communities, his latest creation has risen to new heights with mainstream audiences. Bluehole aimed to develop the game in around a year’s time, and so far, they have managed to do so with a very small team, and without the use of conventional marketing tactics.
The Hottest New Game on Twitch
Battlegrounds has largely been reliant upon word-of-mouth advertising rather than PR campaigns, television commercials, and other forms of major marketing. The streaming community has been a significant factor in Battlegrounds’ rise up the popular games charts, with it consistently placing among the top three games in live viewership on Twitch.tv. It is often in the second spot, only behind perennial streaming count leader, League of Legends.
Greene has noted that Battlegrounds is an extraordinarily streamer-friendly game, especially because of the entertaining nature of battle royale gameplay.
“The heart and soul of battle royale—the idea of looting, then fighting with other players—is good for streamers, especially the starting part.”
The player base of Battlegrounds continues to grow daily, and more and more streamers are picking up the game, notably some popular FPS streaming personalities such as Summit1g, Grimmmz, and DrDisrespect. As the game mechanics are being ironed out and the meta is becoming more defined, Battlegrounds is becoming more competitive as well—talk of an E-sports scene is common in the community. As evidenced by some of the larger competitive games such as League of Legends, DOTA 2, and CS:GO, E-sports visibility is one of the most effective ways to bring in new players.
Competitive Success in Battlegrounds
With the arrival of some fiercely competitive players, gaining a competitive edge within Battlegrounds has been a hot topic among players desiring to increase their chances of being the last player standing. Testing graphics settings, measuring gun recoil, and comparing the stats of the in-game equipment are all ways players hope to improve their odds of winning. However, one of the most important aspects of the game that can make or break a round is sound.
Having accurate game sound in Battlegrounds is one of the most effective ways to make sure that only the player’s skill at hearing enemy footsteps, vehicles, and gunshots limit success rate—besides the usual factors such as strategy and mechanical ability. Currently one of the top players in the game, Grimmmz is one such streamer who places high value on his audio accuracy; he almost completely relies on his ears to determine enemy placement within buildings that he invades, or what direction sniper shots are coming from.
High-quality audio equipment is important in Battlegrounds, because of the necessity of hearing in-game sounds with as much accuracy as possible. When competing at the highest level, nobody wants to be second guessing where shots are coming from, or if there are footsteps coming from inside a building or not.
It will be interesting to see how Battlegrounds develops over the next few months before its worldwide official release date, slated for Q4 2017. There are plans in the works to port the game to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but without concrete release timetables at the moment. Whether playing competitively or just for fun with a few friends, Battlegrounds has captivated its player base, with over 300,000 playing at peak times.
If you’re getting into Battlegrounds and are looking to become one of the top players in the game, or if you simply do not want to worry about sonic accuracy of old gear, it may be time to upgrade your equipment in favor of some highly accurate 3D audio headphones. The OSSIC X specializes in spatial audio accuracy, and has been lauded by many publications for its ability to place sounds in space as precisely as we hear them normally.
Good luck on your journey to be the last player standing!