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PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds- The next big eSport?

1 December 2017 16:41

If you haven’t heard of it, there is a good chance you will have seen footage of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) on social media without even realising. The game has become a quick fan favourite amongst PC gamers, and the early-access game has taken Steam by storm this year. The full game is set to be released as soon as possible, and be made available on Xbox One.

Following a ‘Hunger Games’ style of play, 100 people are dropped onto a map and the last person to survive wins. Now when you read that, it was likely two tactics immediately came to mind; hide away and let everyone kill each other until you swoop in last minute, or go on a rampage and kill everyone and anyone in sight. Both tactics have their merits, with the latter rewarding you with more points in the game but the former making you more likely to win overall.

Streamers all round the world have taken a liking to this game, despite the early access meaning the developers still thinking they can make the game better. Time will tell if this is just a delay until they release on consoles as well, or if they really think the gameplay can be improved. If it can be improved, then it’s hard to imagine how much of an improvement they could see on the 1.5million+ concurrent players.

Despite being a huge game, the eSports scene is almost non-existent. The only major event for PUBG that was held at Gamescom didn’t go down all too well with players or viewers. Players competed against each other over three days and whoever got the most points was declared the winner, walking home $15,000 richer. The longer you survive, the more points you get, so the tournament was won by Kyo-min Koo who just hid-away every round to accumulate points, rather than fighting opponents. It was boring to watch, but the guy did what he had to do to win the money.

If the game is to progress to the big leagues like League of Legends or CS:GO, then it will have to do three things; find a way of making the tournaments more exciting, branch out into as many countries as possible - including the far-east - and generate some serious cash for prize money.

Your game can be extremely popular, but if you can’t make the tournaments exciting then you don’t have an eSports product. This game has so much potential, so organisers just have to find a way to harness that. On the face of it, a series of knockout tournaments leading up to a final winner-takes-all final sounds so intense and could really get people tuning in.

There is no denying that the far east is the home of eSports, characterised by both the viewers going to stadiums to watch tournaments and the amount that tune in to watch streams. Over 10 million people from China alone tuned in to watch the 2017 LoL World Championships online stream. PUBG is almost at the other end of the gaming spectrum to LoL, so this could be a tall order.

At the end of it all though, it comes down to prize money. The more money you offer, the more players you are going to get vying for that money. This is how you build up talent and that leads to more people watching. Obviously, you can’t just offer up money and get nothing in return, so this could be a ‘slowly but surely’ kind of process.

If you weren’t familiar with PlayerUnknowns Battleground before, then you definitely are now, and there is an extremely high chance in the future you won’t be able to get away from it at all.

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Updated on: 2017-12-01

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