Video games come in many genres. There RPGs such as the Fallout series, MMOs like World of Warcraft, and FPSs like the Call of Duty series. There are so many different genres and games already available to players, many gaming companies are now having struggles trying to differentiate new games from the old and give players new experiences. This scenario is what primarily led to the massive success of the Battle Royale genre and more specifically, the popularity of the game Fortnite.
The Battle Royale game genre is characterized of a large server of participants being dumped onto a large map with essentially no weapons to start with. It is up to the player to adapt to their environment quickly and collect weapons, ammunition, and supplies that will help them win the match. In the Battle Royale genre a match is usually only worth one life, in other words there is no respawning. You may play alone and seek to be the last man standing, or you can play with a team usually up to 3-5 teammates. The objective of the game is for you or your team to eliminate enough enemies from the match in order to be the last player alive.
This genre seems on the whole not very innovative when compared to games like Call of Duty, especially when you examine the game modes “Free-for-all” or “Gun Game.” However, what does separate the Battle Royale genre from these game modes is the tension the player feels from not having the respawn option. The feeling of having only one life creates a more urgent vibe when playing the Battle Royale genre.
But how did this genre come about? Mike Wehner of Yahoo! makes the case that the Battle Royale genre was first popularized by mods created in Minecraft servers that intended to replicate the experience of the competitors in the movie The Hunger Games. He argues that the popularity of both Minecraft and the popularity of The Hunger Games that created a want for more Battle Royale type games.
This want sparked the games of Fortnite, PUBG, and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. These were all instant successes, with Fortnite leading the pack. Fortnite is interesting to the gaming community, mainly because it rides the ever increasing tide of “Free-to-Play” Games. These free to play games are becoming more popular because they are an effective way for gaming industries to essentially get gamers hooked onto their product. In the case of Fortnite players do not need to pay in order to get any type of competitive advantage, players can only buy skins and different emotes. But, many other games enlist a “pay to win” or “freemium” strategy.
Pay to win games are extremely criticized by the gaming community for obvious reasons. A vote cast on Reddit elects APB: Reloaded as the worst case scenario of these pay to win games, citing the gameplay as unfair and unrealistically difficult. However, by purchasing advantages outside of the original game purchase, the game becomes much easier. This enrages the gaming community because essentially brings the original price of the game up to an astounding total.
However the new gaming idea of loot boxes is arguably what is most annoying to the modern gamer. Loot boxes are like little gambling machines in which you spend your video game currency (or real world money) on a mystery box that will give you random stuff that is in the game. At first this doesn’t seem all too deceptive because all you have to do is keep spending in game currency until you get the object or objects that you are wanting to acquire. The problem arises when you keep grinding long hours into the game for currency to open boxes that in the end will only have a slim chance of actually giving you what you’ve been wanting to unlock. It feels like the gaming company wants you to eventually give up the hours of grinding and instead buy the loot boxes with your real world money. Even when you trade your money for the time you will save, you still have to hope and pray that those loot boxes you just spent real money on will have what you are looking for.
These examples of money grasping schemes are largely absent from Battle Royale games however, which is another component as to why they have become so popular. Although they do not offer much to the avid gamer that lives for the immersive gameplay of RPGs, they do provide a fun and full experience to the casual gamer.