2017 saw the explosion of the Battle Royale genre. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known by its PUBG moniker, landed on Steam in late March. And since then, has become the biggest game on Steam ever (by concurrent player numbers). 2 million+ play the game at the same time during peak hours. That’s one million more than Valve’s juggernauts DOTA 2 and CS:GO combined.
You can see how the sales have grown over time at my PUBG sales article. Today, it notches another milestone. 20 million copies sold according to SteamSpy (19,984,498 with a margin of error of 114,000). 20 million copies sold without ever participating in a Steam sale. All driven by word of mouth. Twitch streams. And mind-boggling growth in China.
PUBG isn’t the only one passing a huge milestone this week. Epic Games, whose engine powers PUBG, acted quickly to take advantage of the rapidly exploding Battle Royale genre.
They added the mode to their Fortnite game. More importantly, they beat PUBG to the punch on consoles. Fortnite’s Battle Royale came to PC, Xbox One, and PS4. And Epic decided to make it free-to-play. While Epic sacrifices upfront sales, going free-to-play meant their player base grew fast. Extremely fast.
Yesterday, Epic announced Fortnite passed 20 million players. The number is “across all of Fortnite since launch,” but a good chunk of that is thanks to the free-to-play Battle Royale.
I’m sure there’s some overlap between players on both games, but the numbers show the Battle Royale genre is insanely popular across all platforms. A quick peek at the Most Played section on the Xbox website shows Fortnite at the #1 spot. Now, I’m not sure how often these numbers are updated. Maybe weekly? Call of Duty: WW2 is nowhere to be found on it.
Also, all these games have healthy populations. Take Battlefield 1. It sits at the #13 spot and has a peak 24-hour concurrent player count of nearly 36,000.
The Battle Royale genre will only grow over the coming months. PUBG should notch a few more million sales quickly once it hits Xbox One next month.
And then we wait for the inevitable deluge of Battle Royale games. Publishers won’t sit on the sidelines for long with this kind of growth. Matching PUBG’s sales numbers will be a tough hill to climb, but even a fraction of that would be a huge success. Fortnite and H1Z1 show there’s plenty of room for multiple games to compete.