The 2018 PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Global Invitational has been taking place, and it has been an eye-opening experience. The game is one that kicked off the battle royale fad in 2017, but now it is beginning to seem like it is falling behind the curve. A number of statements obtained in an interview between PCGamesN and Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene seem to show how green this new developer may be. Or, perhaps, hint that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is not quite as suited for its meteoric rise to success as people might expect.
Back in February 2018, SuperData suggested around 30 million copies of PUBG were sold, coming to around $712 million in revenue. Official announcements arrive regularly on Steam. The mobile version tends to stay in the top 20 games on iTunes and Google Play. It has its own Xbox One bundle. It even had a Global Invitational held in Berlin, Germany! But some announcements have made it seem like it might not be ready to stand toe-to-toe with games like Call of Duty, CS:GO, or even Fortnite, the game that snuck up to try and do what it did, only better.
One issue is Greene telling PCGamesN’s Jessica Wells that, “it’s something I’ve always said - we’re not esports ready, and we’ve never said we’re esports ready.” This was said at a PUBG competition, mind you. He went on to say that battle royale esports are not really a thing yet, and we know that a five-year plan is in place to hopefully get the game into a position to have official regional leagues in 2019. But it seems discouraging to make such a statement at a major event. Even if you are uncertain about a game’s future, shouldn’t you avoid negative words? It seems as though it would inspire more confidence to refer to the roadmap and discuss ideas.
There is also Greene and PUBG Corp’s mindset regarding custom servers. As a refresher, if people want to play custom games in PUBG, they will have to pay for the access to custom servers to run them. When talking to PCGamesN, he noted, “We just can’t provide free servers for everyone, it’s just not a sustainable business model. I still pay for ARMA 3 servers to this day, because that’s just how the world works.” Except the issue here is that renting servers is the only way to make that happen. It could come across more as a cash grab from a game that, as I mentioned earlier, had an estimated $712 million in revenue as of February 2018. The game also has microtransactions, is multiplatform, and is still trending. It can be concerning, as it might seem like the developer is preoccupied with how much it can get out of customers, rather than making things better for them.
Finally, there is the issue of cheating. In this same interview, Greene told Wells that hacking is not a problem in PUBG. One of his exact statements was, “The amount of hackers in the game is very low. You might have bad luck experiencing hackers on a daily level, but the level is quite low.” Which, as anyone who has played PUBG knows, is ridiculous. There are tons of hackers present in the game. Early in July 2018, it came out that the number of Chinese hackers arrested for cheating in the game reached 141 people. If you search YouTube for “PUBG” and “hacking,” you will get at least twenty results uploaded that same day. It is an issue, and to say it isn’t suggests a massive disconnect.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a game with potential. It has done great things and has the possibility to soar to even greater heights. But, the people in charge of making it need to show a little more awareness. The game has problems, it is still growing, and more care needs to be taken with its direction to ensure its success.