Call me Mr. Current Affairs if you like, but I bought Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds the other day and I think it’s hotly tipped to be the biggest thing on Saturn. Saturn, because, well, it’s essentially old news back here on Earth, as just this week the game which ISN’T ACTUALLY OUT YET has screamed past the 10 million sales mark. I can’t imagine what 10 million of anything looks like, but Player Unknown can. He can imagine 10 million 30 quid paychecks charging into his bedroom and euphorically crowd-surfing him to the bank, probably quite lucidly because of all the coke 300 mil can buy you. Anyway.
Down the Pubg
If you’ll excuse the coffee-induced metaphor, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG as it’s affectionately known to those short on time or long on cutesy acronyms, has experienced clamorous, riotous, trouser-flapping levels of success not seen for games of similar sizes or games of similar tenures (again, it’s not actually out) since Minecraft, and it’s even surpassed old Notch’s digital Lego legacy.
If you’ve so much as blinked in the general direction of the games industry over the last few months, you’ll have been immediately bludgeoned to death with PUBG’s wildfire-like stories, leaving even the most reasoned and well rounded onlooker (me) incredulous – so what the hell has happened!?
The premise of the game is simple, yet it’s the execution which strikes such a harmonious chord across the game playing world.
Destination Player Unknown
An online-pvp-only environment; PUBG throws 100 of your finest peers into a helicopter and tells them to jump out onto an island wherever they so fancy. Once they hit the floor, it’s a game of survival as, in 3rd person, (they’ve added first person specific servers now, yeesh – ed) players scavenge for armour, weapons, and vehicles, trying to stay alive in certain areas until the timer hits zero. Easy.
There are two big areas that, for me, have granted PUBG such industry-wide warbling:
- THE DAY-Z EFFECT: Remember when all anyone talked about was Day-Z? Its ambient battles with the dead threw up stories of bravery and tragedy left, right and centre. The sheer concept of it as a platform for teaming up with your friends and getting eaten, or going it alone and seeing what would happen the first time you met another player was enough to set the world on fire. Wacky, weird and wonderful tales were everywhere. Both PUBG and Day-Z started life as ARMA mods, and it’s palpable. The survival genre has become hugely popular, largely due to Day-Z, and PUBG retains some of those elements and builds upon them. In many ways it feels like a successor to Day-Z – adding in a more standardized, infinitely popular ‘military’ shooter hook that many of the world’s highest grossing games function on entirely. Day-Z + CoD/CS = Success?
- THE TWITCH EFFECT: Influencers are everything these days, and many of the world’s biggest and most influential influencers are influencing all day over on Twitch. PUBG’s contained gameplay arena and the mechanic of shoot/survive in any way you possibly can, utilising random in-game loot you may or may not find each go, keeps any match fresh, exciting and unpredictable. This, in turn, makes for perfect Twitch fodder. Easy to follow, fun to watch, always new and different. As such, Twitch took to it like Piers Morgan being given yet another opportunity to be a vacuous, horning slab of human garbage. With vehemence. This helped rocket PUBG into the eyes and hearts and minds and Steam libraries of literally millions. 10 millions.
Still, even with these excuses circling my sleep-deprived mind, I just can’t get over the virality of this game. It’s a true phenomenon, and given its status as another Early Access champion, it may become another significant notch on the ever changing way we buy, play, and experience games.
Despite all this gibbering, I’m yet to actually play PUBG. Because it’s a Steam game so its primary function is to be bought and then to sit in my library and never be touched. That said, I feel I must get involved and see what the fuss is about. Maybe TONIGHT.
Have you played it yet? Are you addicted? Are you baffled by the constant, incessant publicity hammering this game seems unable to avoid? But like, not in an angry way. Drop me a comment here below or over on the Respawn Facebook, you lot.