The views and opinions below are @ShawnRazor ‘s. They do not represent the views of the entire team.

In the past two years, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of different battle royale games. I played a lot of Realm Royale, dove into Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, played over 200 hours of Apex Legends, and (regrettably) spent some time playing Fortnite’s own battle royale. With that experience into the genre, I’ve made a lot of interesting discoveries. One of the major discoveries I have made is just how they’re maintained in order to keep an active and growing playerbase. These types of games truly require a large amount of consistent updates which exposes a serious flaw with the genre.

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Let’s take Fortnite for example. This is a game where, as much as a lot of us can disagree immensely with it, it can’t be argued that the game was immensely successful and remains being essentially in the top spot as far as battle royales are concerned. You may wonder why it’s so successful and I believe it’s in part due to just how frequent its content updates are. Generally you don’t go more than a week or two without them tweaking a lot of the statistics, adding a new weapon, or even both. Once the season turnaround comes for the game, even more content than the usual updates gets added that changes the way the game works and manages to keep it fresh for new and returning players. You really have to applaud Epic Games for finding just the right balance of updating the game, and letting players get their hands on the currently existing content. It never really gets boring even for those who play on a consistent basis.

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On the other end of the spectrum, we have Apex Legends. This game struck out to many players of the battle royale genre as something different and unique from the widely popular Fortnite. Even I myself, thought the game would massively succeed and possibly even surpass Fortnite in popularity. We even got an update a month and a half after the game’s launch with a new character, an entirely new weapon, and a battle pass. Since then though, the game has received a single balance update and won’t be seeing even news of Season 2 until E3 next month. The team has previously responded to this lack of updates through a blog post stating the following:

“our goal isn’t, and never has been, to patch or update content on a weekly basis. We believe strongly in the importance of large, meaningful changes to the game that have lasting impact”

Drew McCoy

While the idea of having large, meaningful changes to the game is no doubt a good thing for the level of quality, it sacrifices the consistent changes that a battle royale game should be getting. The vast majority of battle royales are played on a single large map and therefore the scenery can get quite stale rather quickly. Its even proven itself to be quite an ineffective way of going about updates if the game’s recent revenue has had anything to say about it.

These aren’t even the only examples either. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is getting nearly monthly updates to the game with substantial amounts of content and currently holds second place for Steam’s most played games. Meanwhile Black Ops 4’s Blackout is nowhere near the numbers it had when it first launched back in October (although admittedly it is a lot more than just a lack of content weighing the game down).

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It also comes down to the updates themselves having the correct changes for the player base to enjoy. An excellent example of just what not to do for this is Realm Royale. This game was the first battle royale that I had a genuine interest in, as Fortnite only really lasted a week for me (wasn’t exactly into battle royale games at that time). It looked like it had some huge promises, but the game began receiving updates which I thought were coming more out of a madhouse than a well known studio like Hi-Rez. I mean, who’s idea was it to add a timer to prevent players from queuing for a certain amount of time? Regardless, the game really never got the updates it should’ve and caused it to die rather quickly.

With all these examples, I think it’s pretty clear that there’s one major commonality between all of these. That being the amount of upkeep and close attention required to truly keep an entry to this genre afloat. Hard work for high rewards should generally be a good thing, but I feel as though it also presents a lot of problems for companies trying to make their mark in this genre. One major issue is the sheer amount of work required of people working on these games. This work results in some immense crunch for those at the studio, with people working at Epic Games reportedly working 70-100 hour work weeks in order to keep up and prevent anyone else from having more piled onto them. Crunch is never a good thing, and to see it so rampant in a set of games like these is much too common and disappointing.

Along with this, it’s very hard for any indie companies to stay competitive with other titles. Indie companies generally offer their own true innovation into their titles, and you generally see a lot more variety in their work as compared to larger triple-A studios. Lacking that group of developers is a huge hit to this area of the industry and restricts the ability for true creative passion projects.

Overall battle royale games can be a lot of fun for many players, but only when given constant and consistent updates from the developers behind the games. This in turn, is worse for the companies that make them and hinder the possibility of competition from smaller and potentially more passionate studios. I would love to hear how you feel about battle royale games, and what you think of the current entries.

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