Say the words “WoW killer” to a bunch of MMORPG players in 2017 and you’re bound to get eyerolls, for good reason: Even though we’ve been watching over the last decade as game after game chased the title, most folks don’t really believe that any MMORPG will ever truly “kill” World of Warcraft except possibly WoW itself, however slowly. Globally oriented, e-sports-centric games like MOBAs and shooters have long since surpassed the MMORPG market anyway, beating them at their own community game.
What I didn’t really expect to ever see was a game that killed the “WoW killers,” and that’s exactly what PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is doing. Oh, League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO aren’t dead, and they’re not going to roll over and give up so easily, not when they’re still making money hand-over-fist (just a little bit less than before). But I have to admit that I didn’t see this coming. Battle royale is an old game type, and PUBG isn’t even the first to try to revivify it. I never expected this kind of dramatic sea change in online gaming. We’re watching a huge shift happening right before our eyes, and bizarrely enough, Daybreak is partly responsible.
Is PUBG a “WoW killer killer”? Is PUBG really worthy of all the fuss, or are people just sick of the old-school MOBA and shooter lineup?
Here’s a fun game that we play around the Massively OP office: A troublemaker will come in and loudly proclaim, “You know what’s a good game name? PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds!” Then it becomes a race to exit the building as fast as possible before flying projectiles from the staff make contact.
Dumb name or no, PUBG continues its meteoric climb in popularity. The battle royale shooter just reached a staggering 2.3 million concurrency, although these levels haven’t been achieved without a few (hundred thousand) bad eggs spoiling the batch. The studio claims that it has banned 322,000 accounts so far for cheating.
As the studio struggles to stay on top of this monster that it created, it also prepares for the holiday Xbox One release, the PC 1.0 launch, and the imminent addition of climbing and vaulting.
Looks like at least some of the rumors last week have proven true, as Daybreak is indeed removing the “King of the Kill” branding from H1Z1, meaning the battle royale half of the zombie survival sandbox is now getting the unified game’s original name free and clear.
You’ll recall that in 2016, Daybreak split H1Z1 into two separate games, H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive; this past summer, the company dropped the “H1Z1” from Just Survive’s branding, cutting loose the survival sandbox half of the original split-apart game, and then it announced a pro league for H1Z1 just last week.
“Throughout development we’ve continued to define the vision for H1Z1, which is competitive at its core with fast-paced and action-packed combat,” Daybreak explains. “Over the past year, the game has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of both player base and development, so we thought it was time to evolve the game’s look to something that better represented the spirit of H1Z1 and the level of quality we aspire to. H1Z1 is also the name that our players connect with most, so it was just natural evolution for us to transition back. We’re also working to ensure that H1Z1 can be enjoyed by players around the world, and having the word ‘Kill’ in the name of the game can be limiting with some global audiences.”
“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk Gielinor and there’s 200 million in-game gold pieces to be won by the player who can survive the longest.”
That might be hard to fit on a movie poster. Fortunately, it’s for an MMORPG instead.
Starting today, RuneScape is hosting a new 10-day challenge called Dimension of the Damned. In this “alternative game universe,” players will attempt to survive the onslaught of the walking dead by scavenging resources, creating shelters, and fighting back in one-hour sessions. All participants will get a survival outfit and the “RIP” axe.
The top 1,000 scoring players who haven’t had their brains consumed by October 28th can compete in a no-holds-barred battle royale to determine the ultimate champion of this event. There are a bevy of rewards for this finale, including all-expenses-paid trips to Jagex and a year of premium subscription for the top five winners.
Are you one of the 10M people who’ve dipped into Fortnite’s battle royal mode? Or perhaps one of the 500K who played concurrently this past weekend? Then you’ll want to point your eyeballs at the game’s latest patch. The 1.7.1 update brings battle royale stats, a monster power balance in the Save the World mode, and changes to the progression system for Challenge the Horde game mode. At least if the studio can get the kinks worked out, anyway. My favorite patch note? “Added a few structures near Tomato Town.”
Of note, Epic says it’s making good on its promise to upend cheaters, having now implemented the contentious but widespread third-party BattlEye program, even for PvE players. The program is used in multiple games but has been criticized heavily for privacy violations, most recently by the ARK Survival Evolved community. Epic, however, has stated on Reddit that BattlEye was not to blame for the recent spate of false positives in cheat detection.
That isn’t to say nobody’s to blame. Indeed, the company is apparently personally suing the creators of two sub-based cheat service, AddictedCheats, at least one of whom has been “banned from Fortnite at least nine times,” according to the filing. MOP readers will recall that Blizzard’s enjoyed a measure of litigation success over cheat-vendors preying on its own games, so we’ll see whether Epic does too.
If you were wondering what Daybreak is up to as we have been, wonder no more: It’s been putting together a pro league for H1Z1, which it is now characterizing as a “groundbreaking survival battle royale game.”
“Daybreak Games has partnered with Twin Galaxies, whose new Pro League Division will establish the H1Z1 Pro League for Daybreak’s fast-paced, last-man-standing game, H1Z1. The goal of the league is to create a sustainable esports ecosystem in partnership with teams for the benefit of H1Z1 players, viewers, and League partners. Focused on a ‘player-first’ approach, the H1Z1 Pro League will include a guaranteed player minimum salary, team owner and player representation on the governance committee, along with a comprehensive Player Bill of Rights and a well-defined revenue sharing model. The H1Z1 Pro League will launch its inaugural season in early 2018.”
The studio says it’ll form the league around 15 teams of 5 players that will come together in live 75-person matches over two 10-week splits next year. “There will be no fees or buy-in costs for teams to take part in the league,” Daybreak notes, “and teams will be selected through an application process that will begin this fall.”
Remember a few days back when Fortnite broke half a million concurrent players with its contentious free-to-play battle royal mode, the one that earned ire from both paying PvE players and PUBG studio Bluehole? That was just the peak concurrency. Today, Epic Games has put out an infographic to give a slightly more complete picture of just how the game is doing.
The studio boasts that 10 million folks have logged in to play the PvP mode in the last two weeks since it opened, racking up almost 45 million hours played. The other stats are superfluous and fun, like number of people who leaped from the battle bus (almost 300 million of you). So, 10 million bodies then. No wonder Epic’s had no public comment on Bluehole’s complaints.
Smack talk all you want, but cheaters aren’t lasting long in Fortnite. In fact, apparently “thousands” of miscreants have been banned already.
Earlier this week, Epic gave cheaters a massive warning. “Addressing cheaters in Fortnite is the highest priority across Epic Games,” Epic’s Nathan Mooney declared. “We are constantly working against both the cheaters themselves and the cheat providers. And it’s ongoing, we’re exploring every measure to ensure these cheaters are removed and stay removed from Fortnite Battle Royale and the Epic ecosystem. We don’t want to give too many clues about what we’re doing, but we are rolling out tools and will continue to do so.”
At least one of those tools will be arriving over “the next several weeks” in the form of account progression. Quick cheating, jerks.
The game most recently celebrated 7M players following the opening of its controversial F2P battle royal mode, while PvE players are grumping over their brand-new Horde Bash mode.
One million players? That was September. Now it’s (early) October, and Fortnite Battle Royale has already shot across the seven million player line without looking back.
The multiplayer shooter continues to enjoy meteoric success with its free PvP mode, success that Epic Games wants to keep going. To assist in that effort, the studio released an update this week that added player duos and supply drops to Battle Royale in the hopes of keeping it interesting and engaging. You’ll have to supply your own friend, however; there’s only so much magic that developers can work.
The team also continues to work on fine-tuning weapon accuracy and balancing the different approaches to combat: “Our goal is to provide a competitive experience without losing our unique playstyle and crazy over-the-top moments that Fortnite Battle Royale brings to the table.”
Staggering and shuffling their way into players’ worst nightmares, zombies have infested the normally cheery arena of RuneScape and need a little pruning. That’s where the MMO’s new survival mode, Dimension of the Damned, comes into play.
For the two weeks that this event runs, Dimension of the Damned gives players a maxed-out version of their account and challenges them to survive amid the living dead by using crafting, combat, and cooperation. It is scheduled to begin on October 16th, so you have a little time to prepare your ideal zombie shelter. If players do well enough, they can earn loot boxes and even be invited to the “grand finale” battle royale-style showdown on October 28th.
Gee. That sounds familiar.
Other activities coming next month for RuneScape include a bundle of previously member-only content being released for all free players, the Halloween story quests (some of which come from player submissions), and the beer-soaked Novtumberfest. Get a sneak peek of all of the fun below!
If the developer of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was hoping that Fortnite’s new battle royale mode would flop on impact, then it is sorely disappointed with the results this week. Fortnite’s first day offering the new PvP mode saw a staggering one million players rush in to give it a try, proving that this game and the popularity of this style of play is nothing to ignore.
It probably helped a little that this battle royale mode was being given away for free, making it the first such type of game to hit console, evoking the ire of players who paid for the PvE mode believing PvE would remain the game’s focus as originally promised.
PUBG’s Bluehole has been publicly displeased with the release of Fortnite Battle Royale, initially accusing the latter of “replicating the experience” of the former. Bluehole subsequently changed its angle, saying that its beef with Epic Games had to do with the use of the game engine and the business relationship between the two studios.
Well now PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will have another battle royale game to fight. UK-based Automaton Games announced that it is working on a new tactical shooter MMO that will, yes, include a last-player-standing battle royale mode. Got to cash in on the craze, after all!
Despite its indie credentials, Automaton is going all-out with this title. The studio received a $10 million infusion from an investment firm and is using that to fund the development of the so-far unnamed title. From what we know, the new game is going to throw as many as 1,000 players onto a “shared world” that’s 12 kilometers square. The game has some muscle under its hood, being made with SpatialOS and the CryEngine.
According to the website: “We’ve recently announced a few details of our upcoming tactical shooter: an MMO of unprecedented scale, supporting 1,000 concurrent players in an ultra-high fidelity world instance. It is set in a huge, photoreal, and highly dynamic environment, with strong character progression, social hubs, intelligent mission systems, and global-scale player-driven narrative.”
Ever since Bluehole threw down a gauntlet at Epic’s feet over the similarities between PUBG and Fortnite’s battle royale mode – or more specifically, over Epic’s conflicts in regard to the Unreal Engine it furbishes and on which both games run – I’ve noticed the mainstream narrative is about whether it’s “illegal to rip off” a game mode that’s existed for decades. I suspect MMO players may see it differently.
See, Bluehole isn’t some new studio to MMO players; it built TERA in Korea. It was also the studio that was sued civilly and prosecuted criminally (successfully) for ripping off NCsoft years ago. Multiple Bluehole employees were accused and convicted of stealing trade secrets, “copious amounts of confidential and proprietary NCsoft information, computer software, hardware, and artwork relating to Lineage 3” from NCsoft.
Moreover, MMO players have already seen how conflicts just like this one between studios and engine developers can absolutely sink games. At the end of 2015, the MMORPG sandbox community watched helplessly as it appeared the studio behind Hero Engine held The Repopulation studio hostage, ultimately forcing the game offline and then buying out the game from its original developers in what seemed an unwelcome, hostile takeover acceded to in desperation.
So with all that in mind, this morning’s Daily Grind is multifold: Where do you stand on the Fortnite-vs.-PUBG feud? Who’s in the right, legally and morally, and does it concern you for engine/game relationships in the future?