There was the shooter era, the MMORPG era, the MOBA era, and now it is the battle royale era … except it’s not going to be an era. Unlike its predecessors, which held the spotlight for years, it’d be surprising if battle royales survived the year. Here are five reasons that battle royales won’t last:
1. The Genre Isn’t Broad Enough
Drop onto a map, find randomly spawned weapons, and fight until the end while a ring of death closes in around you. It is a pretty cool concept, but there’s just not much a developer can do with it. They could add a few elements to make it special, like building mechanics or preset loadouts, but the majority of the gameplay is always going to be remarkably similar to that of competitors. It doesn’t help that less popular games are copying the style of the dominant titles, making them all seem to lack originality.
2. The Community Is Devolving
Everyone knows what happened to communities such as Minecraft and Undertale. As players become tired of the game, the player base thins and the remaining crowd tends to be dominated by young gamers. As this demographic becomes the majority, the vocal community becomes more immature and will likely be seen as annoying. This drives a lot of gamers away, and the community’s growth can slow tremendously.
3. Content Creators Become Repetitive
Battle royales are interesting because there’s always some suspense. However, there’s not too much action. A lot of the game involves waiting for the incredibly tense shootout moments; it isn’t as enjoyable unless you are playing it. Content creators on YouTube and similar platforms can make compilations with the most intense moments, but a lot of these moments are simple shooter interactions that are exciting because of the thrilling nature of battle royales. These situations usually fall flat in compilations because they don’t have the same build up to active play. Compiled content gets painfully repetitive, and that also repels a potential player base.
4. It’s Hardly E-sports Compatible
When you’re at the top of the top, you get one chance to pull the trigger faster than the other guy. The genre is 90% silence and waiting, 5% tracking enemies, and 5% actual shooting. That is terrible for e-sports, which thrive on action and excitement, and battle royales are not going to provide nearly enough of it. The climactic moments give just a few seconds of precise shooting, and then more silence. The genre is also dependent on RNG in its weapon spawns, which is often considered unfair since many deciding moments in matches are dependent on getting good spawns.
5. It’s Already Peaked
The previous top battle royale gamePlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds peaked in January 2018 with 3.2 million concurrent players according to Steam Charts. This number is down to a peak of 1.7 million simultaneous players within the last 30 days. Granted this is somewhat due to the extremely popular battle royale Fortnite that took the top spot in February boasting 3.4 million concurrent players, breaking PUBG’s record. Beyond this, there are no available statistics for parallel play, but sometimes a lack of data speaks as much as concrete numbers. People can only assume that Fortnite has not broken that record in the past five months; otherwise, they would have announced it for more publicity and monetary gain. Another less popular battle royale, H1Z1, has plummeted from 150,000 concurrent players in June 2017 to a dismissable 10,000 in July 2018.
While some may argue that these numbers are wavering due to interest in other growing battle royales, there aren’t any new games blowing up. Realm Royale, released in June 2018, has dropped by 3,000 in its average concurrent player count since last month, going from 33 thousand average players to only 28 thousand. These numbers are incredibly small compared to the beasts that are Fornite and PUBG. Granted it is still in its infancy, the amount of promotion and hype for new battle royales should have provided a higher outcome than a peak of only 103 thousand concurrent players, happening six days after release. Call of Duty is releasing a new battle royale game mode, but critical speculation tempers the public’s excitement.
There’s not enough for developers to create with the limitations of the genre. Some specific rules and conditions make a battle royale work as a game. Although the recipe can use some tinkering by including building mechanics, interesting weapon choices, vehicle options, or class selections, the games start to look and feel the same after several matches. As ideas for new game releases run low and developers resort to the mechanics used in other games, interest will naturally fall. No one knows what will replace battle royales, but as of right now, the current genre is not setting the bar very high.