The battle royale trend that kicked off with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds in March 2017 doesn't quite feel as robust as it once did. Companies are still making money off of it, sure. PUBG Corporation made $920 million in the 2018 fiscal year. Apex Legends' player count hit 50 million one month after its February 2019 debut. But, numbers are going down. Apex Legends' Twitch views went down 75% in the second half of April 2019. Information about 70-100 hour work weeks for Epic Games' Fortnite staff came out. The hype can't keep up. So, what's next. Well, maybe another kind of multiplayer.
Part of what makes a battle royale so compelling is the drive to win. Only so many people enter into a match, and only one person can come out on top. That's what really helps set it apart. But, there's another critical factor that pulls people in. Every successful battle royale has modes that encourage cooperative play. Duos, trios, and squads of four players are often available, giving people a chance to fight together against the odds. Maybe what will come out of this battle royale push is a cooperative renaissance.
We're actually poised for such a thing to happen. Three major games are coming out that all rely heavily on cooperative play. Each one will have different risks and rewards coming from the community effort. This means there could be a constant drive to keep going and working together that offers the same sort of rush as being the best player out of 100.
Borderlands 3 is one of them. Borderlands has always been a very big community game. Installments are played for years after launch, and the original installment just appeared on the PS4 and Xbox One to great acclaim. Borderlands 3 will offer more of that. New Vault Hunters to use, with each one having their own unique style and approach. Split-screen multiplayer will be there for people who want to be in the same room and play. Online multiplayer is there, for everyone to get in on it. As for the incentive, it's the loot. There will be about one billion weapons present in there and each person has their own loot stream. There's no sharing. Everyone contributes and is guaranteed a share. That will drive a lot of players.
Halo Infinite is going to be another major multiplayer game. Since this game is further away, details aren't as readily available. However, it will have split-screen multiplayer. People will all be able to get together and work together. Since a staple of the series is teaming up with friends to take on other teams, we could see a drive to become the best team appearing here. People could be taking what they learned about surviving in a group from games like Fortnite and PUBG and bring that here in an environment known for solid multiplayer team experiences.
Finally, there's Gears 5. This is the latest entry in the Gears of War series. One of the more memorable modes is Horde, which has undergone multiple evolutions since Gears of War 2. In past games, this means five players trying to survive 50 waves of enemies, with a boss coming every 10 waves. Is is a huge rush when you are perfectly in-sync with a group and can manage to not only get by, but succeed. Gears 5's multiplayer reveal will come in June 2019, but there's a good chance it will return. Not to mention, general split-screen and online co-op is confirmed.
A big part of battle royale is surviving with a team and reaping rewards together. Even if this particular multiplayer space continues to fade, there is a good chance another kind of multiplayer experience could be elevated to greater heights after. It seems like a great time for co-op to be reinvigorated, with companies really celebrating games that let you play together, hopefully both locally with split-screen and online, in the next few years.