Erangel doesn’t have much of a history or a past. It’s a more or less Soviet, pretty much post-apocalyptic, abandoned shit hole with homes with lots and lots of guns to loot.
You and 99 other strangers are made to board a plane and jump with a parachute to this hell-hole of an Island to fight for your life and kill off the rest.
99 Strangers are on the hunt for you and each other. Every single one of them wants to be the last one standing. Every Single one of them wants to win.
They loot homes as soon as they land. Hunting for weapons and armor — scrounging the map to find anything that could be of use.
Looking down your sights as you open the door and a guy with a shotgun blasts you in the face.
The Story of PUBG
People have always wanted a Battle Royale game — but it never happened.
First came the original Team Death Match island Battle Royale. The Japanese book and movie told the story of 42 students dropped on a deserted island, and forced to kill each other until only one was left.
It got people asking, what they would do if they were in that situation? But the movie was not released in the West for years, leaving it an obscure cult classic.
Then years later, Hunger Games came around, and it re-ignited the fire. People wanted the Battle Royale Games. But no one was making them, but one person wanted it more than anybody else — Brenden “Player Unknown” Green.
Brenden Green was not a game designer. He was an Irish photographer and web designer who followed the love of his lie to Brazil. Two years later, he was divorced and looking to get his life back on track. He made it back home to Ireland. And, while living on welfare, Greene discovered the games ARMA and DayZ.
For those who don’t know ARMA is a hyper-realistic military shooter, known for the scale of its combat, its attention to detail, and graphic fidelity. Also known for being the foundation for an incredible number of mods, many of which were spun off of into their own games. DayZ is one of the best-known ARMA mods, which use the hyper-realistic combat mechanics to simulate a zombie apocalypse.
The Battle Royale mod for ARMA 2 was a departure from the tightly directed experiences offered by AAA games like Assassin’s Creed. Green was not interested in those types of games. He wanted something looser, something grittier. Something that gave you the freedom to show what you would do in a battle to the death.
As DayZ broke free of ARMA and became a standalone game. Other developers took notice of how popular Green’s mods were in the niche ARMA community.
Sony Online Entertainment, now known as DayBreak, hired Green as a consultant on their won DayZ style zombie survival game. That mode eventually became H1Z1 king of the Kill.
But by February 2016, Green had moved on. He was headed to Korea where he got an interesting offer. Chang Han Kim, a Korean game designer working for Blue Hole wanted to make a Battle Royale Game. He was inspired by DayZ, but when he researched the Battle Royale format more and more, he kept coming across Green.
And less than one month later, he was Blue Holes creative director. Development moved fast. Green and Kim’s team had the autonomy to create the game that they wanted. And they wanted it to be playable within one year.
The game started its development in early 2016. And the plan was to follow an early access schedule. Green and Kim wanted to get the game in customers’ hands fast for a low cost and keep improving it over time. But the foundation needed to be laid down before anything else.
The team made a small game, one map, one mode, a handful of weapons were added after the launch. But from the day it was released on early access in March 2017 to today, Battlegrounds has been the same game. However, when it first came out there wasn’t quite anything like it. Sure Green’s mods were still out there. But mods are never as popular as standalone games.
Battlegrounds was a breath of fresh air amidst the high budget lavishly produced shooters on the market — It was messy — It was tense — It was complicated, but most importantly it was fun.
While PUBG has added more maps to the game like Vikendi, Sanhok, etc. but Erangel is still the most iconic thing about Battlegrounds. It’s the game’s main character with familiar landmarks, wide-open spaces, and bizarre unique topography. It’s not realistic. Swamps, farmland, mountains, and towns all mingle together to make a backdrop that has much of a hand in the action as the players do.
And the players came to the battlegrounds fast. It’s released on iOS and Android for free. The games player base grew every week. 10 million rounds of battlegrounds were played in the game’s first four months.
It made 11 million dollars in three days of its release on Steam. By April it had sold a million copies. One month later it was at 2 million, the next month it hit 4 million. In August, Battlegrounds became the most played game on Steam in terms of concurrent players. By September, it had beaten DOTA 2’s record of 1.29 million concurrent players. By October, it had hit 2 million players on Steam and became the most popular game in South Korean PC bangs beating long time king, League of Legends.
When the game cracked 2 million copies sold, BlueHole held a charity invitational tournament. Three month later ESL held the first major battlegrounds tournament cementing a possible eSports future for the game.
Green told gamesindustry.biz that he has always envisioned his mods to be spectator sport someday. And his baby was finally taking its first steps.
People asked if battlegrounds can be an eSport. It had the audience and the player base. The only problem was the logistic, gathering 100 people for a LAN tournament is not the easiest thing in the world, but PUBG did mange to figure out the way and managed to organize competitive eSports events with best players in the world.
eSports was not the only place Battlegrounds was growing. The game sold more and more copies by the day and even bigger companies took notice. Tencent made a deal to publish the game in China, Facebook cut a streaming deal with BlueHole. Epic Games who assisted in modifying the Unreal Engine for Battlegrounds, made battlegrounds inspired play mode for their game Fortnite.
There’s no sign that the game will stop growing anytime soon and with imitators starting to crop up, that just gives Battlegrounds more chances to innovate and be better than the competition.
Battlegrounds is the beginning of a new video game genre and no one saw it coming.