PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. The game is based on previous mods that were created by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene for other games using the film Battle Royale for inspiration, and expanded into a standalone game under Greene’s creative direction. In the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed themselves. The available safe area of the game’s map decreases in size over time, directing surviving players into tighter areas to force encounters. The last player or team standing wins the round.
The game was released for Microsoft Windows via Steam’s early access beta program in March 2017, with a full release on December 20, 2017. That same month, the game was released by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox One via its Xbox Game Previewprogram. A few months later, it was localized and released by Tencent Games in China, while two mobile versions based on the game for Android and iOS were also released. The game is one of the bestselling of all time, with over fifty million sold across all platforms by June 2018. In addition, the Windows version holds a peak concurrent player count of over three million on Steam, which is an all-time high on the platform.
Battlegrounds received several positive reviews from critics during both its early access period and on final release; reviewers found that while the game still was not fully finished and had some technical flaws, Battlegrounds presented new types of gameplay that could be easily approached by players of any skill level and was highly replayable. The game received several Game of the Year nominations among other accolades, and is considered by Greene to be the defining game of the battle royale genre. Several other video games, following in Battlegrounds‘s success, added battle royale-style modes, while a number of clones, primarily out of China, also appeared. PUBG Corporation has run several small tournaments and introduced in-game tools to help with broadcasting the game to spectators, as they wish for it to become a popular eSport.
Lead designer Brendan Greene, better known by his online handle PlayerUnknown, had previously created the ARMA 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale, an offshoot of popular mod DayZ, and inspired by the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale. At the time he created DayZ: Battle Royale, around 2013, Irish-born Greene had been living in Brazil for a few years as a photographer, graphic designer, and web designer, and played video games such as Delta Force: Black Hawk Down and America’s Army. The DayZ mod caught his interest, both as a realistic military simulation and its open-ended gameplay, and started playing around with a custom server, learning programming as he went along. Greene found most multiplayer first-person shooters too repetitive, considering maps small and easy to memorize. He wanted to create something with more random aspects so that players would not know what to expect, creating a high degree of replayability; this was done by creating vastly larger maps that could not be easily memorized, and using random item placement across it. Greene was also inspired by an online competition for DayZ called Survivor GameZ, which featured a number of Twitch.tv and YouTube streamers fighting until only a few were left; as he was not a streamer himself, Greene wanted to create a similar game mode that anyone could play.His initial efforts on this mod were more inspired by The Hunger Games novels, where players would try to vie for stockpiles of weapons at a central location, but moved away from this partially to give players a better chance at survival by spreading weapons around, and also to avoid copyright issues with the novels. In taking inspiration from the Battle Royale film, Greene had wanted to use safe square areas, but his inexperience in coding led him to use circular safe areas instead, which persisted to Battlegrounds.
When DayZ became its own standalone title, interest in his ARMA 2 version of the Battle Royale mod trailed off, and Greene transitioned development of the mod to ARMA 3. Sony Online Entertainment (now the Daybreak Game Company) had become interested in Greene’s work, and brought him on as a consultant to develop on H1Z1, licensing the battle royale idea from him. In February 2016, Sony Online split H1Z1 into two separate games, the survival mode H1Z1: Just Survive, and the battle royale-like H1Z1: King of the Kill, around the same time that Greene’s consultation period was over.
Separately, the Seoul-based studio Ginno Games, led by Chang-han Kim and who developed massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) for personal computers, was acquired and renamed Bluehole Ginno Games by Bluehole in January 2015, a major South Korean publisher of MMOs and mobile games. Kim recognized that producing a successful game in South Korea generally meant it would be published globally, and wanted to use his team to create a successful title for personal computers that followed the same model as other mobile games published by Bluehole. He had already been excited about making a type of battle royale game after he had played DayZ, in part that the format had not caught on in Korea. He also wanted to make this through an early access model and have a very limited development schedule to get the game out as quickly as possible, while treating the product as a “games as a service” model to be able to support it for many years. In researching what had been done, he came across Greene’s mods and reached out to him. In July 2017, Bluehole partnered with social media platform Facebook to provide exclusive streaming content to Facebook’s gaming channels, as part of their pushing to provide more gaming content for its users.
Around the same time that Greene left Sony Online, Kim contacted and offered him the opportunity to work on a new battle royale concept. Within a week, Greene flew out to Bluehole’s headquarters in Korea to discuss the options, and a few weeks later, became the creative director of Bluehole. He moved to South Korea to oversee development. According to Greene, this was the first time a Korean game studio had brought aboard a foreigner for a creative director role, and while a risk, he says that his relationship with Bluehole’s management is strong, allowing Greene’s team to work autonomously with minimal oversight.The game’s main theme was composed by Tom Salta, who was personally selected by Green as he and the team were looking for an “orchestral electronic hybrid theme” that would give players a “huge build-up”, keeping them “resolutely determined” until a match starts.
Development began in early 2016 and was publicly announced that June, with plans to have the game ready within a year. Kim served as executive producer for the game. Bluehole started with a team of about 35 developers supporting Greene’s work, but had expanded to 70 by June 2017.Greene stated that many of these developers were voluntarily putting in longer work hours into the game due to their dedication to the project, and not by any mandate from himself or Bluehole’s management. In addition to Bluehole, Greene also credits Bohemia Interactive, the developers of ARMAand DayZ, for support with motion capture animations via their Prague studio.
With the rapid growth of interest in the game, Bluehole spun out the entire development for Battlegrounds into Bluehole Ginno Games in September 2017, which was renamed PUBG Corporation with Kim as its chief executive officer. PUBG Corporation continued the development of the game and its marketing and growth, opening an office in the United States with plans for future ones in Europe and Japan.
Battlegrounds represents the standalone version of what Greene believes is the “final version” of the battle royale concept, incorporating the elements he had designed in previous iterations. Faster development was possible with the game engine Unreal Engine 4, compared with ARMA and H1Z1, which were built with proprietary game engines. Greene acknowledged that implementing the size of the maps in Battlegrounds has been one of the challenges with working with Unreal, which was not designed with such maps in mind. The game was designed as a mix between the realistic simulation of ARMA 3 and the arcade-like action focus and player accessibility of H1Z1.
Based on Greene’s experience with the genre, an island with many terrain features was picked as the first map, known as “Erangel”. The map design scope was to offer players many possible options for strategic and unique gameplay.Some buildings and structures were designed to depict the style of the brutalist architecture of the Soviet Union during the 1950s. The developer team playtested architecture features and random item placement systems, looking at both how close-quarters encounters went, and for open terrain areas.The goal was to optimize the right distribution and placement of weapons and gear across the map, to encourage players to make strategic decisions about how to proceed in the game without overly penalizing players who may not find weapons within the first few minutes of a round.During early access, additional maps were planned, such as one set on a fictional island in the Adriatic Sea that included snow-covered Yugoslavian territories. Greene stated that he thought the Erangel map felt disjointed despite meeting their goals for gameplay, and sought to create more unified ideas with future maps.
The freefall from an airplane at the start of each match was a new feature for the genre, to encourage strategy between staying with the pack of players or seeking out one’s own route for a better chance at finding good loot. With the added parachute drop, Greene considered that Battlegrounds had three distinct subgames: the airdrop during which one must quickly figure out the best time to jump and where to land in relationship to the other players, the loot game of knowing where and how to gather the best possible equipment, and the combat game with other players. Players who win a match are greeted with the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner”, an idiom that Greene had used in his prior battle royale games and kept in Battlegrounds, which itself had origins as early as the Great Depression.
Features that Greene anticipates adding include custom games and modding support. He considered modding support an essential part of the full release as, just as he had his start with mods, he wants to enable others to create variations on his game so that he can “find the next PlayerUnknown”. Greene also wants to incorporate the game with streaming services like Twitch.tv that would enable replays or other features amenable to treating Battlegrounds as an eSport. Greene had anticipated that Battlegrounds would develop into an eSport, and this was an ultimate end goal for his development, but he wanted to let the nature of how it would play out as an eSport grow naturally with the player community. He also plans to introduce microtransactions to allow players to use real-world funds to purchase loot crates that provide randomly-selected cosmetic items, also known as “skins”, which they can trade with other players; while Greene recognizes the issue with skin gambling, he believes that Valve has put safeguards in place to support a “skin economy” that will provide further revenue for them without concerns over gambling.However, by November 2017, gray market skin gambling sites began to appear, using Battlegrounds cosmetics as virtual currency. Following controversy over the use of loot boxes to offer “pay-to-win” items in other games in November 2017, the PUBG Corporation affirmed that while they will continue to add new cosmetic items rewarded by in-game crate purchases, they “will never add anything that affects the gameplay”.In May 2018, PUBG Corporation disabled the ability to trade skins on the Steam Marketplace as they found that players were still abusing the system by selling them for monetary value through unofficial third-party platforms.While in early access, Bluehole offered an early preview of the system by offering time-limited crates that could be purchased during the first Battlegrounds Invitations tournament during Gamescom in August 2017, with the sales from these contributing to the prize pool. Among loot from these crates are special outfits inspired by the Battle Royale movie. Greene anticipates adding a campaign mode with co-operative player support, though there would be “no serious lore” crafted for the narrative, comparing this to similar modes in Watch Dogs.
The game, while in early access, has already received alternate gameplay modes created by players, determined by unenforceable rules that players agree to abide by, that have been popular with streamers. This was aided by a quiet release of custom server support to a number of influential streamers which subsequently made it into public release. In one case, “Zombie Mode”, all but four players pretend to be zombies, who may sometimes distinguish themselves by removing all clothing and are limited only to collecting melee weapons and consumable items, and must rush to attack the other four players, who are able to collect all gear and attempt to outrun and defeat the zombies. Inspired by this mode, Greene announced plans to introduce an official zombie-based gameplay mode based on this into Battlegrounds. Whereas most of the rest of the team continued to develop the core gameplay and maps, Greene is taking on the zombie mode as a near solo project, only using the assistance of the lead animator to help with the zombie animations. Greene sees Battlegrounds as a platform, and would like to see more custom game types and mods developed by players for it.Greene identified that some mods that he also previously worked on from ARMA 3 may become part of the Battlegrounds platform.
To prevent in-game cheating, the game uses the “BattlEye” anti-cheating software, which was banning more than 6,000 players a day in October 2017 and over 2.5 million players in total by the beginning of 2018, with over a million in January alone. In December 2017, BattlEye indicated that 99% of cheats were made in China.
Bluehole used closed alpha and beta periods with about 80,000 players, including popular Twitch streamers, to gauge initial reaction to the gameplay and adjust balance prior to a wider release. Just prior to the early access phase on Steam, Bluehole opened a few servers and invited some of the top streamers of the battle royale genre to try it out as to start gaining interest. Early access launched on March 23, 2017 for the Windows version.This early access period was planned to last approximately six months, originally aiming for a September 2017 release. In July 2017, Greene announced that they would need to extend the early access period by a few months, continuing to release updates on a regular basis, with plans to still release by the end of 2017, as committing to this original period “could hinder us from delivering a fully featured game and/or lead to disappointment within the community if the launch deadline is not met”. Initially, Bluehole had expected that they would just gain enough players through early access to smooth out the gameplay, and only when the game was completed, they would have started more marketing for the title. The sudden interest in the game from early access exceeded their expectations, and put emphasis on the stability of the game and its underlying networking alongside gameplay improvements. Through August 2017, these updates generally included a major weekly patch alongside major monthly updates that provided key performance improvements. However, from August onward Bluehole backed off the rate of such patches, as the high frequency has led to some quality control issues, and the developers rather make sure each patch content is well-vetted by the community before providing new updates; this did not change their plans for a 2017 release, where it fully released out of early access on December 20.
In part of the game’s success in early access, Tencent Games, the largest publisher of video games in China, approached Bluehole that same month with an offer to publish Battlegrounds in China and purchase equity in the company. However, the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association issued a statement in October 2017 that discouraged battle royale-style games, stating that they are too violent and deviate from Chinese values of socialism, deeming it harmful to young consumers. The following month however, PUBG had reached a formal agreement with the Chinese government to allow the release of the game in the country, with Tencent as the publishing partner. However, some changes were made to make sure it aligned with socialist values and traditional Chinese morals. In South Korea, the game is marketed and distributed by Kakao Games.
Despite the lack of a Chinese publisher prior to the Tencent deal, players in China had found ways to acquire and play the game through Steam via proxies and other networking tricks. The large Chinese player base had led to some technical and community problems with the game. From a technical standpoint, while PUBG Corporation offers various servers in different geographic regions, they have not used region locking, thus allowing players from disparate regions playing in the same matches. The network latency has caused issued in-game that make some characters “rubber band”, appearing to be moving to one location before network synchronization that causes them to snap back to a different position. With the game out of early access, PUBG Corporation seeks to eliminate this effect to make this rubber banding less pronounced.To address the technical problems, PUBG Corporation plans to add maximum client ping limits for servers which can reduce the issues with latency problems and prevent some of the cheating that has occurred. This would not prevent cross-region matchmaking but may make it difficult for some players to play outside their region if they have a poor Internet infrastructure. Tencent has also helped by identifying and reporting around 30 software programs to Chinese police that can be used to cheat in Battlegrounds, leading to over a hundred arrests by the beginning of 2018. Separately, this technical issue, in addition to the larger number of Chinese players, has created complaints in the player community. Some Western players fear that many Chinese players are able to cheat in the game by exploiting some of the network latency issues, something that PUBG Corporation continued to address as the game shifted out of early access. However, a small number of players called for server segregation by region, and had used racial insults at Chinese players they encounter in game. Greene was disappointed with this “xenophobic attitude”, calling it “disgraceful”, and asked the player community to respect the Chinese players more as their numbers were a key part of the game’s success. Greene also identified that players can easily get around such region locks using virtual private networks, making this approach ineffective.
Bluehole planned to port the game to consoles, which will be released sometime following the completion of the Windows release, with the company already having a team starting on the Xbox One port. Greene was part of Microsoft’s press conference during Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 to announce that Battlegrounds would be coming to Xbox One as a timed console exclusive sometime by the end of 2017, using the Xbox Game Preview early access approach to test it.
Initially, Greene said that Microsoft was not directly involved in the porting but only providing assistance to make sure the port is good, and that most of the porting responsibilities are being done by Anticto, a Spanish developer. However, at Gamescom that year, Bluehole affirmed that Microsoft Studioswould be publishing the Xbox One version of the title, helping to make a planned 2017 release for this version. Greene said that Microsoft’s support has helped in several ways, not only for the Xbox One version but improving the performance and security of the Windows version. Further, by being part of the group of studios under the Microsoft banner, they have been able to talk and incorporate technology from other developers, such as improved water rendering techniques they obtained from Rare that they had developed for Sea of Thieves. Microsoft considered Battlegrounds to be an important project to demonstrate their company’s ability to be more than just a publisher, according to Microsoft’s Nico Bihary who lead the project. Bihary said they have given Battlegrounds a “white glove” treatment, and for the Xbox One port have provided services from their advanced technology group and time and support from The Coalition, another of Microsoft Studios’ subsidiaries. Kim also stated that the team was interested in cross-platform play between the Windows and console versions, but did not anticipate this as a release feature, as they need to determine how to mitigate the advantage keyboard and mouse-using players would have over those using controllers.
Titled “Game Preview Edition”, the early access version for the Xbox One was released on December 12, 2017 in both digital and physical formats. To promote it, Microsoft performed real-life supply crate drops in Australia in the week prior, with the crates containing Xbox hardware, Battlegroundsmerchandise, and other goods, using passcodes published alongside the drop locations on social media.The Xbox version also includes Xbox-specific in-game cosmetic items, some which could be purchased directly rather than through in-game crates.
Following the Chinese publication deal for the Windows version, Tencent Games and PUBG Corporation additionally announced that they were planning on releasing two mobile versions based on the game in the country. The first, PUBG: Exhilarating Battlefield, is an abridged version of the original game, and was developed by Lightspeed & Quantum Studio, an internal division of Tencent Games. The second, PUBG: Army Attack, includes more arcade-style elements, including action taking place on warships, and was developed by Tencent’s Timi Studio. Both versions are free-to-play, and were released for Android and iOS devices on February 9, 2018. The games had a combined total of 75 million pre-registrations, and ranked first and second on the Chinese iOS download charts at launch. Following a soft launch in Canada, an English version of Exhilarating Battlefield known as PUBG Mobile, was released worldwide on March 19, 2018.
Kim also stated that a PlayStation 4 version is planned; Bluehole’s head of global business Woonghee Cho said that because of Microsoft’s assistance and suggestions for supporting Battlegrounds, the title would be a timed console exclusive for the Xbox One. Following news that Microsoft Studios was serving as a publisher for the Xbox One version as a “console launch exclusive” in August 2017, reporters questioned Bluehole about their PlayStation 4 plans, but Bluehole did not confirm either way on current plans for this platform. In an interview shortly after Gamescom, Greene said that their deal with Microsoft did not exclude a PlayStation 4 port, but that their focus at the time was only on the Windows and Xbox One version, given the small size of their team. Bluehole later confirmed they were in discussions with Sony for the PlayStation 4 version. When asked about it in January 2018, Kim stated that the team released the game first on the Steam and Xbox Game Preview early access programs as they both easily allowed in-development games to be released and updated over time, which contrasted with Sony’s lack of their own early access program, as well as their strict quality control for even completed games. Kim further stated that if given the opportunity, he wants the game released on every possible platform.
Awards and accolades
While still in early access, Battlegrounds won the “Best Multiplayer Game” and was also nominated for the categories “Game of the Year” and “Best Ongoing Game” at The Game Awards 2017. The game’s nomination for “Game of the Year” created some debate, being the first early access title to be named for one of the top industry awards. Also, about a month before it was released, the game won “Best Multiplayer Game” and “PC Game of the Year” at the 35th Golden Joystick Awards, whereas its other nominations were for “Studio of the Year” (PUBG Corporation) and “Ultimate Game of the Year”. It also won the “Breakout Game of the Year” award at PC Gamer’s end of the year awards, whereas its other nomination was for “Game of the Year”. Polygon ranked the game second on their list of the 50 best games of 2017, and The Verge named it one of their 15 Best Games of 2017, while Entertainment Weekly ranked it seventh on their “Best Games of 2017” list.
On the day it was released, the game won the award for “Best PC Game”, “Best Multiplayer”, and “Best Spectator Game” at the IGN Best of 2017 Awards, whereas its other nominations were for “Game of the Year” and “Best Shooter”. It also won the award for “Best PC Game” at Destructoid’s Game of the Year Awards 2017. The game also won Giant Bomb’s “Best Multiplayer”, “Best Surprise”, “Best Debut”, and “Game of the Year” awards, and was classified as a runner-up for the “Best Moment or Sequence” award for the “chicken-eating game”. Eurogamerranked PUBG fourth on their list of the “Top 50 Games of 2017”, while GamesRadar+ ranked it 12th on their list of the 25 Best Games of 2017. Game Informer gave it the award each for “Best Competitive Multiplayer” and “Best Shooter” in their Best of 2017 Awards, and also for “Best Competitive Multiplayer”, “Best Multiplayer Map” (Erangel), “Best Innovation”, and “Shooter of the Year” in their 2017 Shooter of the Year Awards. In their Reader’s Choice Best of 2017 Awards, the game won the “Best Competitive Multiplayer” award, and was runner-up in the “Best Microsoft Exclusive” and “Best Shooter” categories. The game was also nominated for the Big Apple Award for Best Game of the Year at the New York Game Awards 2018, and for “Best Design”, “Innovation Award”, and “Game of the Year” at the Game Developers Choice Awards. In addition, it was nominated for “Game of the Year” and “Outstanding Achievement in Game Design”, and won “Action Game of the Year” and “Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay” at the D.I.C.E. Awards; it was also nominated for “Game, eSports” at the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards, and won the awards for “Excellence in Multiplayer”, “Trending Game of the Year”, and “eSports Game of the Year” at the SXSW Gaming Awards, whereas its other nominations were for “Most Promising New Intellectual Property”, “Excellence in Design”, and “Video Game of the Year”; and it was nominated for “Evolving Game”, “Multiplayer” and “Original Property” at the 14th British Academy Games Awards.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds came out of nowhere.
The game started as a mod developed by a photographer and web designer who fell in love with hyper-realistic military sims after breaking up with the love of his life and moving halfway across the world. The mod popularized a genre that had barely been explored by game developers, and eventually became a full-fledged game.
That game is the most popular game on Steam.
With millions of copies sold, billions of game sessions played and more money than we can count, PUBG is perhaps the biggest video game success story of 2017.
And no one saw it coming.
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-4430 / AMD FX-6300||Intel Core i5-6600K / AMD Ryzen 5 1600|
|RAM||8 GB||16 GB|
|OS||64-bit Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10||64-bit Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10|
|Graphics Card||nVidia GeForce GTX 960 2GB / AMD Radeon R7 370 2GB||nVidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB / AMD Radeon RX 580 4GB|
|Direct X||Version 11||Version 11|
|HDD Space||30 GB||30 GB|
|Game Analysis||If you want to run PUBG, you will need a minimum GPU of a GeForce GTX 960 or a Radeon R7 370 with at least 2 GB of dedicated memory. You CPU needs to be a Core i5-4430 or an AMD FX-6300. And if you have this setup, you will also be able to run games like CoD WW2, Destiny 2, FIFA 18 and Shadow of War - at least at the minimum level. PUBG is a massively multiplayer online survival game. The game is based on battle royal-style game mods previously made by Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene for other games. Up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others but making sure to avoid getting killed themselves. The last player or team standing wins the round.|
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