Fortnite Battle Royale Banner

The Battle Royale Era

There is no question that Battle Royale games are among the most popular games out there at the moment, in fact the trend is so big that nearly every studio has probably at some point had a meeting to discuss whether or not they can implement a battle royale mode into their own game. I certainly would be trying to capitalise and ride that wave if i were a developer (it’s a good thing i’m not).

So what essentially is ‘battle royale’?…

The Basic Setup

100 Players

It begins with 100 players (more or less) who are dropped into an area with little or no equipment or weapons.

Safe Zone

A safe zone appears on the map which then gradually gets smaller as player numbers dwindle, any players caught outside of the safe zone slowly loses health.

Limited Equipment

Players start off with limited or no equipment and must find everything or ‘loot’ items in and around the map in order to survive.

1 Winner/Survivor

The game ends when there is only one player left alive who is then declared the winner.

…The idea is simple and is not a new one. The idea of battle royale has been around for a while and actually originated from a movie, no not hunger games, but a movie called… well…Battle Royale, i know who would of thought. 

The film became a cult hit and gained quite a bit of attention, it showed that there was definite interest in the genre and a growing fanbase/following. A long with other movies such as The Hunger Games and the Condemned the battle royale concept started to open up and be explored a lot more. However, it would take some time before it would reach the heights we see today. 

The first few games that can be seen exploring the ‘BR’ concept were quite often early access games on platforms such as steam and available to pc gamers.

DayZ was one of the earliest examples to implement a BR mode, a game that was based upon survival and zombies, adding a BR mode saw it receive relative success and a surge in popularity. Other games began to also add BR modes, many created by the modding community, games such as Minecraft, a huge successful game. H1Z1 a game similar to DayZ also added its own BR mode called ‘King of the Kill’ this saw huge success and rapidly popularised the battle royale concept to a wider and more mainstream audience.

With the help of popular platforms such as Youtube and Twitch, people were able to share their gameplay and more importantly wins to audiences, this in turn grew the fanbase even more and slowly established itself as a niche in the gaming market. However, these games were being made by small development studios and with little funding  

with many, if not all of the games, rarely ever coming out of ‘early access’ or Beta. At its peak H1Z1 reached 150,179 players in July 2017. Many more people were engaged with the game however through watching popular streamers and videos, this number may be attributed to the fact that only PC gamers could play the game.

Then along came Player Unknown’s Battleground’s, Developed by Blue Balls Entertainment, it took the foundational concept of Battle Royale and developed upon it adding various other features, realism and gameplay. It seemed that the community were desperately in need of a new refreshing game that catered specifically to their BR   

needs as they snapped it up and the numbers show it. At its peak PUBG reached 3,236,027 players in January 2018 the huge surge in popularity indicated the start of a possible trend and sparked an intense interest from the gaming community in the battle royale genre. The player base showed to everyone how popular BR was and showed the potential it has looking forward. Developers were now zeroed in and looking sharply at the Battle Royale genre for inspiration on what they could possibly do with their own projects. Twitch streamers were seeing similar success in terms of viewership playing PUBG in comparison to other popular games such as Counter Strike and League of Legends. BR had firmly cemented itself as a viable genre and a popular category in the gaming industry. However, this was only the calm before the storm.

Nearly a third of PC Gamers are playing a battle royale game

Fortnite started off as a normal survival/zombie base-building game (as with most) which had a fair amount of popularity as any new innovative game does. A few months later Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, announced they would be introducing a battle royale mode bonus that it would be free to all regardless if they had purchased the main game or not. This gave everybody access to experience a BR game-mode, it also was the first major game to have a battle royale mode on more than one platform and not just on PC. This accessibility was a major step forward for the genre and came at the perfect time. What Fortnite did was to take the core gameplay of BR modes and make it fun, enjoyable and less about realism and more about the playability.