What do you get when you take the brutal core idea behind stories like The Hunger Games and Japanese cinema classic Battle Royale and jam it into a multiplayer game? The bizarrely-named PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
What started as some mods to Arma III grew into its own game and launched on Steam’s Early Access portal just over two weeks ago. Since then, the game has sold over 1 million copies according to its developer, Bluehole. Just like games such as DayZ, Rust, and H1Z1 before it, Battlegrounds appears to be poised to be the next big indie hit on Steam thanks to a novel match style and a critical mass of dedicated players.
Survival of the luckiest
In case you’ve somehow missed out on both the 2000 Japanese cult hit Battle Royale and the mega-hit The Hunger Games, both stories are about a dystopian future where randomly-selected teenagers are put into a large arena and tasked with being the last one to survive.
While Battlegrounds forgoes the dramatic story elements of those tales, it picks on the same basic idea. Up to 100 players are dumped into a large arena, parachuting off the plane wherever they think might give them an advantage. Item distribution on the island is randomized, and certain areas of the map become off-limits as the match progresses. If you’re killed, that’s game over for you, as there are no respawns, and you’re kicked from the game.
The name behind the game, PlayerUnknown, started the game from mods to the military simulator Arma III, and H1Z1 King of the Kill had started to popularize it. Now it looks like the original creator is set to take back the crown.
The game’s popularity comes from its novel concept and from how appealing it is on streaming platforms like Twitch, where the high stakes can make for dramatic gameplay.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is still in Steam Early Access and will likely stay that way for some time as developer Bluehole addresses issues with gameplay and player requests. With the game selling so well and maintaining a strong playerbase, hopefully it’ll see an official release before too long.