The Daily Grind: Do survival sandboxes and/or battle royale games have a future?

    
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Goopy?

We saw the end of REND. I’m sad about that. I liked REND, I thought it had neat ideas, but it had a problem wherein it never reached the critical mass of players needed to make those ideas work at all and then it went away, which I can’t imagine bodes well for Frostkeep Studios. It may have had a neat take on the whole survival sandbox and battle royale marriage, but none of that matters if you can’t produce a game anyone wants to play.

But then, that in and of itself raises a question about whether or not this genre is, well… a sustainable genre. Clearly there are developers with ideas out there, but it strikes me that increasingly neither the lighter-than-a-full-MMO experience of survival sandboxes nor the “we’re different from Fortnite so please play us instead” battle royale games have actually gotten a whole lot of traction. So what do you think? Do battle royale games and/or survival sandboxes actually have a future with new titles being developed? Or are they the next wave of MOBAs, MMOs developed to follow a trend that’s already been satisfied?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Mewmew
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Mewmew

Numerous things lined up for Fortnite, a great amount of it was pure luck in the timing. Twitch and Ninja helped make Fortnite as well, and Fortnite helped make Ninja.

It’s especially funny to think how it was all just a little experiment and side project off the main game. Nobody had any idea it would become what it did, not the developers, nobody.

There will be a game to take the same kind of place and slot in the future. The game industry is full of people trying very hard to discover it. When it does happen again it could very likely be something else that was never expected to blow up and they weren’t trying to take that slot.

I don’t really care to play Battle Royale at all, though I enjoy watching others play, depending. Ninja’s play skill was just ridiculously good in Fortnite. It’s like he was a part of the game. He was also somewhat likable and good looking and all. Maybe the next big game will rise with the next big player as well.

As there have always been people playing Battle Royale games even when they weren’t blowing up so much, I’d say they do have a future. Game companies shouldn’t stake their entire fortunes and future on them or anything or keep betting they’ll be the next Fortnite. You can’t force that.

For Survival Sandboxes, they aren’t going to vanish anytime soon, but the full gamble of so many coming out at once to jump in on the fad has mostly passed.

Personally I want a Survival Sandbox that is co-op, lots of PvE, no PvP, and is also a real MMORPG. Not limited players per server but huge official servers overflowing with many thousands of people. Not just building in a world empty of NPCs either. I’d like to see NPCs, quests and stories like a real MMORPG and all, just using the survival sandbox type template for the main world.

Maybe I’m asking too much. Am I?

Things like Atlas have really interested me but then I read the reviews and lose interest. Even if they did do a good job with Atlas, it’s close to what I want, but not quite there yet.

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NeoWolf

Overall I think they do, but individually as ever it depends on features and accessibility.

Survival Sandboxes are pretty varied, some do well, some don’t. Some are great, some are ugly as sin, some are smooth as butter, others are lagged to high heaven… but they tend to have enough appeal as a “thing” in themselves to keep people checking them out. I am rather partial personally provided they aren’t too gimiicky.

As for Battle Royales.. As much as I personally despise them for being the low hanging fruit of gaming they are, that cheapens gaming as a whole and appeals largely only to those who have the most basic and simplistic tastes in gaming, nevertheless to “some” (and especially some age groups whose tastes haven’t matured yet) they do have significant appeal.

I don’t see either going anywhere, any time soon.

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styopa

I think their gameplay is going to be subsumed as elements of richer fare. They’re pretty one-dimensional, but that can be a useful way to deconstruct something complicated, and really improve it, even if alone it’s ultimately pretty dull.

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David Goodman

I think some of them do, but I feel it’s going to be a lot like the MMO dev-rush that followed WoW : They require a critical mass of players playing constantly in order to sustain themselves.

These kinds of games really only flourish when there’s always people to play against (in particular for BR games); if there’s not then… well, then you’re waiting in a lobby for nothing to happen.

It’s the same inevitable problem every ‘live service’ game has : There is a finite amount of ACTUAL TIME in the universe for each person to spend. I suspect there’s a small number of people who aren’t currently playing one but MIGHT be tempted to whatever Hot New Thing is coming down the pipe, but for the most part, you’re trying to pull people away from progression systems they’re already invested in. If you’re a smaller developer, that could represent the majority of money and work you’ve done for years.

Honestly, not sure i’d stake my company on that kind of a gamble.

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Toy Clown

I think they provide a much-needed niche in the gaming community for players that just want to hop into a game and kill others. These types of players have always been unsatisfied with gameplay in the standard MMOs that only focus a segment on PvP in multi-featured MMOs.

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Swordphobic

I think they do, and I quite liked Rend, its sad sometimes to see the difference in perception between the people who develop the game and those who play. I don’t think the genre is the problem, I just think that we had some very bad deliveries so far.

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Atrili

There’s always a hot genre of the moment. How long have people been saying that adventure gaming is dead? New adventure games get made every year. There’s a cycle of break out hit followed by lots of experimentation on the theme, mostly without success. A few pillars of the genre start to form and those games are typically timeless and well respected. You can’t just write off an entire genre and say “Oh, it will die out.” No matter what, there will always people who love that genre and look to keep it going, both from players and developers.

So, yes, I’d say both types of games have a future. Like most genres, they might become more niche over time or pieces of their mechanics might get merged into other genres, but they will still be there all the same.

Alyn
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Alyn

Remember the League of Legends craze?

Battle Royale is the “hot thing” right now for, (I’m spit-ballin’ here), the younger crowd. Truly probably only one or maybe two BR’s will survive the fracas.

“Man’s greatest fear is chaos.”
Marilyn Manson

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Last time I checked LoL is still making boatloads of more money than any WoW at it’s peak.

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Armsbend

WoW at it’s peak was making $2B a year – and that was in 2008 dollars not 2020 dollars. WoW was making more at it’s peak than LoL ever did at it’s peak.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I stand corrected.

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Armsbend

I’d argue that WoW ushered in the entire concept of “games as a service [sadface]” than any other game. In the same vein you might say LoL ushered in the dominance of F2P as a real alternative.

Both crazy influential.

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Arktouros

I would argue that during the MMO fad when every developer was popping out a MMO with multiple new releases trying to be WOW, which then had to resort to F2P conversions and predatory cash shop antics just to keep the lights on, that games as a service became born.

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Armsbend

I’m not talking about being born – I’m just talking about making a billion dollars like LoL did. I cannot think of a f2P before LoL that made bank even approaching that number. Some people kept the lights on, maybe even upgraded the office chairs now and then – but not as sweeping as LOL did.

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Arktouros

See this is where I’m far more cynical than you are Arms.

I don’t think they were basing the GaaS model off of the success of LOL or that LOL showed them what F2P cash shop could offer them.

What I think was they saw all those games that despite being bad, that in any other model would have ended up shutting down, managed to claw their way back to being not only profitable but making more money than they were before. Every game doesn’t have to be some billion dollar banger so long as the return on investment ratios are high that’s all that’s going to matter. That means you don’t have to worry about a game being received well or poorly because the cash shop will carry you through that failure to profit.

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Bruno Brito

I cannot think of a f2P before LoL that made bank even approaching that number.

What about Lineage 2? Always though it was making buttloads of cash on the east.

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Eamil

But you don’t have a new clone of it coming out every month.

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Arktouros

This is like Wildstar shutting down and then asking if MMOs have a future. Of course they do.

Survival Games and Battle Royales continue to utterly and completely dominate any kind of metric we have for player counts in most services. Both RUST and ARK are high up in the top 20 and PUBG has over 500k users currently. We can’t measure Fortnite but obviously it’s crushing it as well. Everything we’ve heard out of Funcom lately is how good Conan Exiles has performed and that’s at 1/5th the Steam Charts numbers of ARK or RUST.

What the market won’t tolerate anymore is bad games. That’s bad PvE games. That’s bad PvP games. Even players who are part of a niche audience aren’t going to suffer through a bad version of their niche of a game. There’s just too many alternatives out there for people to waste their time on bad games.

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Michael Fuchs

I feel like, regarding battle royales, Hunter’s Arena: Legends and Shadow Arena have the most potential to succeed with their release because they’re so different from what’s out there now.

I think survival could have a future, if one of them manages to not release as a complete buggy mess. Find an actual working fantasy one that’s not horribly buggy maybe.