Over the past couple of years, battle royale games have been sprouting faster than weeds. Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PlayerUnknown's Battleground (PUBG) have completely drowned other games in terms of popularity.
It's been two years, and I still don't understand the trend. I turned on Fortnite once, only to shut it off after about ten minutes into the game.
So, why do people choose to play battle royales over other (way more awesome) games? Let's take a closer look at the reasons why battle royale games have recently exploded.
The Attractive Concept of a Battle Royale
There's a sense of accomplishment that comes along with defeating opponents in a battle royale game—it's like participating in the Hunger Games on a huge scale.
There's only one goal in a battle royale game: to survive. Go it alone or with a team, as you get dropped onto a large map with 60-100 competitors. Scramble to add more equipment to your inventory, while killing or avoiding the other players that stand in your way. The map gets smaller and smaller as time goes on, making it harder to hide.
This isn't the first time we've seen this concept in action. Players in Minecraft and Day Z developed mods that have a similar structure to modern battle royale games.
Why didn't these mods blow up as big as Fortnite? I think a lot of it has to do with cost, accessibility, and publicity.
The Free-to-Play Factor
As much as I hate to admit it, I have to give Epic Games (Fortnite's developer) and EA (Apex Legend's developer) credit for creating free-to-play games that actually work. Some free-to-play games are notoriously buggy, have bad servers, and just don't run all that great. Epic Games and EA ended up exceeding expectations, which contributed to Fortnite and Apex Legend's success.
Games these days are expensive. You can't head over to your nearest Blockbuster and just rent a game anymore—you have to buy it to try it. That's what stops a number of people from blowing $60 on a game they might not like.
But with a free game like Fortnite or Apex Legends, there's no consequences. Since more people can try it, that means more people get sucked in.
PUBG had its 15 minutes of fame until Fortnite swooped in only a few months after its release. PUBG just couldn't compete with Fortnite's free price and similar gameplay.
Accessibility For the Win
Most people pick up the controls of a battle royale game within minutes of playing. There's not really much to these games—all you have to do is collect items, shoot other players, and run from any threats. Better yet, there's not a deep storyline or any complicated abilities to remember.
Simplicity makes battle royale games even more addicting. They provide a winnable contest that keeps players coming back for more.
Fortnite especially has an air of simplicity that's popular among young gamers. No one likes microtransactions as much as kids, which means more dollar signs for Epic Games.
Unsurprisingly, the graphics of both Apex Legends and Fortnite are just as simple as its controls; you don't need a supercomputer to run either game. Developers have also ported these games to consoles, making it even easier to log on with dozens of other players.
A Wave of Battle Royale Twitch Streamers
Not only do people like to play battle royale games, but they like to watch the pros play them too. These games wouldn't have the same amount of fame without the help of the live-streaming platform, Twitch.
Numerous gamers have taken to Twitch to show off their gaming skills. Streamers often add their own flair to each video, making each stream seem like a new episode of a reality show.
The Fortnite player, Ninja, has increased the popularity of Fornite even more with his almost-daily streams and ever-changing hair color. So far, he's raked in over 430 million views on Twitch.
Is This Trend Here to Stay?
Even after two years, the influx of battle royale games shows no signs of stopping. Just keep in mind that all trends come to an end eventually, and battle royale games aren't any different. Battle royale games will go out of style just like space shooters and side-scrollers did.