When PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds became a huge hit, the gaming world was taken by surprise. There have been multiplayer shooters before but the success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG as it’s more commonly called, was on an entirely different level. All of a sudden, a totally new (not really, but it seemed new to a lot of gamers) kind of video game genre was born: the battle royale. Developers and publisher took notice and promptly went into development of their own battle royale version into their popular games. Epic Games had already released Fortnite, a game that was supposedly just supposed to be a cooperative survival game where you build crude barriers as you attempt to take on monsters.
But after PUBG, the game seemed to switch its focus to the battle royale genre. When Fortnite attached the battle royale mode, this is when the game’s popularity truly skyrocketed. Soon, we had all sorts of battle royale games coming out of the woodwork or developers and publishers shoehorning in the mode into their popular shooter franchises. And, honestly, this is where things become dangerous and I feel we kind of have to start controlling how we insert the genre sooner and not later as the incoming flood of battle royale modes can mean its very death.
Now, to those guys and gals who are hardcore PUBG and Fortnite fans, this may sound like I’m hating on them. Believe me when I say I’m not. I have tried playing Fortnite’s battle royale mode (mainly because the game is free to play) and I actually understand the appeal. It can be fun parachuting into a random area filled with other gamers from all over the world, trying to outwit and outmaneuver them to be the last man standing and all that. It’s incredibly satisfying to start out with nothing and slowly but surely build up your arsenal and construct. Heck, it’s even fun just to not go out and kill and just, I don’t know, make your character dance for no reason at all! Kind of reminds me of PlayStation Home a little bit, which I really, really miss, by the way.
With that out of the way, I’m concerned that there are just too many companies attempting to cash in on the battle royale hoopla without really thinking if they’re already oversaturating the market with them. I’m afraid that everyone’s just jumping into the battle royale pool without really checking if the pool has too many swimmers already. I’m afraid there will be too many battle royale games and gamers will just get sick of them because they’re so prevalent. And we all know this kind of thing has happened in the gaming industry before.
I guess the best example of oversaturation of a particular kind of video game practically killing itself would be the fighting game genre. I wasn’t even born then but, since I’m a huge fan of the later Street Fighter games, I did a whole lot of research of its history. So, when Street Fighter II first hit arcades roughly 25 years ago, like PUBG, it set the video game world ablaze. There were fighting games before it, of course, but they barely registered before Street Fighter II left its mark. Then came Mortal Kombat, Fatal Fury and many more. All of a sudden, there was a deluge of fighting games rushing into market, with each and every one of them asking gamers to devote their time and money to play them. Some were decent… but some were just terrible because, hey! All the developers and publishers wanted to do was jump on the trend before the fad dies down. Quality be damned!
So, what happened after the market was flooded with all of these fighting games? Well, while there were some outstanding ones that were released, there were just so many stinkers that it was simply hard to really trust any new fighting games that were being released. This was because there was just a mad rush to capitalize on the genre’s booming popularity, not many publishers really cared to make sure they were actually releasing a good game! Too many terrible games eventually led to the downfall of the fighting game genre for a long while.
Oddly enough, the rise and fall of fighting games isn’t even the only example where too many choices (and only a few gems from a horde of terrible turds) in the video game world. The history of video games is littered with examples of people’s greed trying to take advantage of the next big thing without really focusing on the repercussions of flooding the market without much foresight on the matter. When World of Warcraft became a hit, we were getting MMORPGs left and right almost immediately before only a few standouts remain today.
The most terrifying example from video games past would be what happened in 1983. Just a year before that, in 1982, video games were making tons of money and Atari was the king of the hill. Everyone was predicting that the industry would make even more money and everyone wanted a piece of that pie. With everyone wanting a slice, the industry unleashed a floodgate of, not only a sea of terrible games, but a torrent of video game consoles to compete! This led to consumer distrust; there was no way to figure out which game was good at the time because there weren’t even dedicated video game magazines out yet that reviewed them! You can imagine their surprise when they were promised an arcade classic like Pac-Man and then getting a flickering mess like the one Atari made. Well, it wasn’t a pleasant surprise but a surprise nonetheless!
Of course, I’m not saying the video game industry will die out because we have so many companies jumping on the battle royale bandwagon. What I am saying is that not every shooting game has to have a battle royale mode now just because it seems to be the next big thing! There is a danger that there will be this huge backlash against all the battle royale modes being shoehorned into different games that fans will soon get sick of them!
If this does happen, I know that games like Fortnite and PUBG will survive but the fallout would be that battle royale game mode would leave a bad impression for a lot of people. But this doesn’t have to happen, you know, nor should there be a rush to plug in a battle royale mode in every video game shooter out there. Developers and publishers should stop chasing after the next big thing and instead just focus on making their own thing. If it’s a good game, it’ll have it’s fans, even without the battle royale gimmick.
Do you think there are starting to be too many games with battle royale modes? Let me know in the comments section below!