The highlight of Bethesda’s E3 2018 press conference was Fallout 76. Thanks to a big leak leading up to E3, the game had already been announced. But now we know…
As teased last week, Electronic Arts and DICE have officially revealed Battlefield V. It’s coming October 19 to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (Origin). Battlefield V is a return…
Shots fired by Bluehole, Inc, developers of the incredibly popular online Battle Royale game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Today the VP for Bluehole, Chang Han Kim, released a firm statement regarding Fortnite’s newly introduced game mode, Fortnite Battle Royale.
“We’ve had an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout PUBG’s development as they are the creators of Unreal Engine 4, the engine we licensed for the game,” said Kim. “After listening to the growing feedback from our community and reviewing the gameplay for ourselves, we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.”
Seems that PUBG fans were miffed at seeing another game use the exact same concept so quickly, and the company is inclined to agree.
“We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press,” Kim continues. “This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.”
Fortnite launched in July under the Early Access banner, with plans to launch as a free-to-play title with microtransactions next year. The main game features cooperative base-building, exploration, crafting, and tower defense. You can read our Early Access preview here.
Fortnite Battle Royale was recently added as a free update earlier this month. It indeed cribs all of its structure and gameplay from PUBG’s, including parachuting over a large island, gathering weapons and items, and surviving while a shrinking circular zone dictates where you can go.
During the Fortnite Battle Royale announcement trailer, Epic Games Creative Director Donald Mustard specifically referenced PUBG: “We’re huge fans of the Battle Royale genre, and games like PUBG and H1Z1. We thought Fortnite was the perfect world to build one in.”
It was recently announced that Fortnite Battle Royale will be opening up to everyone for free starting September 26.
Conversely PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds released on Steam Early Access in March. Up to 100 players drop onto an island full of weapons and vehicles, and survive to the last person standing. To date it has sold an astonishing 10 million copies, and is firmly entrenched at the top of the Steam sales and player charts. It’s still in Early Access and coming to Xbox One later this year.
Chang Han Kim closed with the following statement, teasing possible legal action: “The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action.”
Every year brings another runaway indie success story. Last year was Stardew Valley, but this year it’s unquestionably PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The online multiplayer Battle Royale may be a mouthful to say but it has resonated with gamers. It has sold over 10 million units since it first launched via Steam Early Access in March.
That’s right, it’s still not technically released yet.
“It is amazing and gratifying to see the love and support the passionate fans have shown to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” stated Chang Han Kim, Vice President and Executive Producer for Bluehole. “Watching the thrilling moments during the PUBG Invitational with the great feedback from viewers is a realization of the continuing popularity of PUBG. Our team is working diligently to bring a solid gameplay experience for full launch on the PC and Xbox One Game Preview versions later this year.”
Recently PUBG hit a peak for concurrent users at over 970,000 during the PUBG Invitational event at Gamescom. The Invitational featured 92 players from 19 different countries. Players competed in four different game modes including solo and duo. Viewership on Twitch.tv reached over 500,000.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds drops up to 100 players onto an 8 x 8 km island where they must scavenge for supplies, weapons, and vehicles. The only goal is to be the last person standing. Circled zones force people to move into tighter areas and promote conflict. The online game has been especially popular for live streamers.
Currently PUBG is only available via Steam Early Access. It’s coming later this year to Xbox One as part of their Game Preview program. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is set to officially launch in early 2018 on Xbox One, and later this year on PC.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has been rated M for Mature for Intense Violence, Blood, and Gore.
Multiplayer survival-crafting games lack a succinct acronym or single genre-defining style, but they’re absolutely taking over the world of modern online gaming. Older MMORPG behemoths like World of Warcraft have begun a steady decline while there doesn’t appear to be any stopping the new juggernauts like ARK: Survival Evolved. These new breeds of shared sandbox worlds evolved from Minecraft and traditional MMORPGs that had dominated the last decade and a half of online gaming.
MMORPGS: The Rise and Fall
The modern video game industry grew up alongside the rise of the internet, from dial-up modems tying up phone lines to being able to stream games online and store your entire life in the cloud. Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Games began cropping up as early as text adventures and crude pixelated games in the early 90s – most with exorbitant subscription fees that caused many a parent to faint when they saw their phone bill.
In the late 90s gaming began testing the waters of truly massive online servers with thousands of users. Emerging 3D technology helped shape new virtual worlds that players could only dream of a few short years prior. Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Asheron’s Call paved the way for even larger worlds and universes like Dark Age of Camelot, EVE Online, and Star Wars Galaxies.
The year 2004 alone saw three incredibly huge, genre-defining MMORPG releases: City of Heroes, EverQuest II, and World of Warcraft. You don’t need to be a gamer to recognize one of those games as the most popular MMORPG of all time, reaching over 10 million subscribers in 2014.
World of Warcraft wasn’t the first MMORPG but it is the last survivor of the traditional subscription-based model. WoW exploded the MMORPG market in a genre that was already seeing massive growth.
Major publishers began scrambling to concoct their own WoW. In the last decade we had the Matrix Online, Guild Wars 1 and 2, The Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Champions Online, Neverwinter, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Even traditionally single-player franchises like Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls embraced MMORPG spin-off entries.
The MMORPG bubble began bursting nearly as quickly as it started. While everyone can have a different definition of what constitutes success and failure in the MMORPG world, the goal of all of these games was to produce ongoing gaming experiences that would last for years. Nearly every single monthly subscription model failed in the long run, with the 13-year old World of Warcraft being a notable exception.
Save for the occasional oddity, it’s unheard of for a MMORPG to launch with a subscription model these days. Nearly every MMORPG has had to completely shift their revenue model from subscription into either free-to-play with microtransactions or simply relying on an upfront box cost plus paid DLC. The Elder Scrolls Online represents the rare success story of the latter, shifting to a “buy-to-play” model one year after its release, and releasing its first major paid expansion earlier this year.
Your World, Crafted
But the traditional WoW-style MMORPG has become quaint when faced with the explosive new genre of Survival-Crafting games.
Minecraft changed everything. It birthed an entirely new genre based on gathering resources, shaping the world around you, and sharing it with others. And it didn’t require a monthly subscription.
This new genre of games has steadily risen in popularity over the last several years. Minecraft begat single-player survival adventures like The Long Dark, Stranded Deep, and Subnautica, 2D pixelated adventures like Terraria and Starbound, and online first-person worlds like Rust, Osiris: New Dawn, and ARK: Survival Evolved.
They take full advantage of a generation who’s grown up with high-speed internet, YouTube, and livestreaming. These games provide tense, unpredictable gameplay with heartbreaking losses and hard-fought victories, all in real-time.
This week alone sees the Early Access launch of two more online survival-crafting games – Dark and Light and Citadel: Forged with Fire. Both games could trace their genus back to ARK: Survival Evolved, which debuted on Steam Early Access in 2015 and is launching in a few weeks on August 8. These games effectively blur the line between the Massively Multiplayer Online games that were all the rage a decade ago and the new world order of Minecraft-like shared worlds and private servers.
Theme Park vs Sandbox
Most MMORPGs subsisted on the Theme Park concept. The world was set up like one grand amusement park, with everyone standing around ready to dole out quests to park-goers. It was fun to explore the park and ride the rides, but at some point you could see everything. Your mark upon the world typically ended with customizing your own character with bigger and better stuff. Regular expansions added new theme park zones to explore, but in the end it was your guild or friends that kept you coming back, not the rides or gear.
Many Survival-Crafting games generate a completely random, empty world. Your world. You, along with friends and/or random strangers (depending on the server), help create the world around you. There may be existing cities and NPCs in place, or a meticulously crafted island. But you construct the houses, tame the beasts, and assault player-built fortresses. It’s a sandbox waiting to be built.
Their worlds aren’t quite as massive, instead relying on relatively smaller areas for more densely packed content and crowded neighbors who incite conflict. Servers are more democratized, with the best games offering both hardcore PvP options and more friendly cooperative atmospheres. The downside of free-form servers is they open up to hacking and cheating problems, which feels like an accepted trait that comes with the territory these games provide.
As a parent it can be difficult to navigate the murky world of online gaming. Due to the nature of building and sharing in these survival-crafting games, there’s an even greater risk of frustration, loss, and all manner of negativity, regardless of the game’s rating. Thankfully with so many games to choose from, it’s possible to steer your younger children in a direction you deem more appropriate, such as Dragon Quest Builders instead of Rust.
You can discuss with your children about what games they’re playing and why they’re playing them. Building a world together with friends can be an incredibly nurturing, positive experience at a time when many kids and teens feel they may lack control over their lives, or simply want to hang out with friends.
Only time will tell if this is the 2004 of Survival-Crafting games. We’ve seen some explosive growth in the last few years. According to Steam’s player counts, some of the more popular games in the genre like Rust and ARK: Survival Evolved hit 40-50,000 players every day, and both are still in Early Access. Meanwhile Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online – hugely recognizable gaming franchises, enjoy a much more humble 10-15,000 players.
Since they don’t rely on monthly subscriptions the market may be much kinder than the MMORPGs of yesteryear. But one thing all these games have in common is they demand a large amount of time and dedication. You start with nothing and have to work hard to do everything, building your own theme park before you can ride any rides. It can be incredibly rewarding, as well as overwhelmingly frustrating.
Either way most gamers can only dedicate their time to one of these games at a time. It’s exciting to have so many new avenues to explore within a still relatively new genre. But history tells us it’s also a bubble preparing to burst, and only the best games will survive.
If you’ve lapsed, or haven’t yet tried one of the biggest games of the year, now is a lucrative time to jump in. To further celebrate their Winter Event, Overwatch is giving out five free Winter Loot Boxes, just for logging in. You’ll have to do it before January 2nd, when the Winter Event ends.
The Winter Loot Boxes contain special unique loot that’s only available during the Winter Event. This includes unique new Winter and Holiday-themed skins for many characters. These skins, as always, are among the rarest loot.
Overwatch is also on sale right now, both digitally via Battle.net Shop and physically at Amazon, GameStop, and Best Buy. It’s discounted to $29.99, while the Origins Edition is $39.99. The Origins Edition is useful for fans of other Blizzard games, as it comes with a collection of digital goodies such as a Hearthstone Overwatch card back and a Baby Winston pet for World of Warcraft. It also includes five unique skins for Overwatch characters.
The Winter Event is the third Seasonal Event that Blizzard has run this year. Events include new loot and new Arcade mini-games. The Winter Event presents Mei’s Snowball Offensive, in which everyone plays Mei and hurls snowballs at each other.
Blizzard’s hero shooter has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. Overwatch has earned numerous Game of the Year accolades from prominent gaming sites, including here at Pixelkin. Stephen called it “a brilliantly designed game that is possessed of a level of polish that is rarely seen in games today.”