The battle royale genre exploded in popularity over the past eighteen months, which saw developers scramble to release new games in tune with the trend. According to Steam’s player charts, though, nearly all of them lost a substantial number of players in 2018.
In fact, the only game that increased its number of players last years was Ring of Elesium, Tencent’s spin on the last-man-standing blueprint which adds extreme snowboarding and BMX-riding to the mix.
In every other case, from well-known titles such as PlayerUknown’s Battlegrounds and H1Z1 to smaller contenders like SCUM and Cuisine Royale, player numbers dropped throughout the year.
H1Z1, for example, started the year recording impressive concurrent player counts in the millions, but ended it averaging just 500k.
For titles Totally Accurate Battlegrounds and Realm Royale, the player drop across 2018 has been a devastating 99% and 96% respectively.
Although Cliff Blizinski’s Radical Heights has the unwanted distinction of losing its entire player count, which forced the developer Boss Key productions to close its doors soon after its beta release was deemed a failure.
So while battle royale is the in-vogue design of choice for multiplayer games right now, the market continues to be dominated by a single force: Epic Games’ Fortnite.
And so it would seem that while every developer and publisher is undoubtedly seeking to cash-in on the battle royale boom, standing apart in this increasingly saturated space doesn’t appear to be all that viable.
Gamers love battle royale, that much is clear. But for whatever reason, be it the allure of Fortnite, the rushed development of these alternative titles, or a tiring of the same gameplay loop, they aren’t sticking around very long.