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Have Battle Royale Games Taken Over?

A number of people are dropped on an island with varying terrain that is strewn with a random assortment of weapons. Their goal is simple – be the last one alive. What comes to mind when you read this? I highly doubt that many of you are picturing a book released in Japan 20 years ago. Perhaps there are few of us left who remember the iconic novel, Battle Royale (Batoru Rowaiaru in the original Japanese version), published back in the 90’s. That said, I would also wager that most, if not all, gamers these days would be quite familiar with its plot.

Battle Royale 1

It seems that Battle Royale games are the latest game type to steal the hearts of gamers young and old. Possibly the most influential of these, Fortnite, is also arguably the simplest. Its cartoon-style graphics and build-and-jump gameplay very much break away from what was originally the core of the Battle Royale genre.

This did not stop it from propelling its most successful streamers to hitherto untold levels of e-sport fame and fortune. So, what makes these games so popular? If, as mentioned, the graphics and realism are nothing to write home about, what could possibly be drawing this many people to these titles?

The simplest answer is chance. The elements of luck and randomness in these titles can be addictive. You can plan your squad’s drop, loot your buildings with the utmost efficiency and still collect nothing but a simple shotgun. Conversely, you can drop into a tiny shack, luck into a great weapon and begin picking off those poor saps who are still fighting over handguns.

The ‘eye of the storm’ mechanic that slowly pushes people closer together is another key aspect of these games. Some luck is involved as the safe zone does not follow a distinct pattern, and those who are forced to travel long distances in short times are often left exposed to those who happened to already be standing in the correct area.

While all of these elements of luck might seem frustrating to some, they offer a different experience for each round of the game. This seems to be just enough change to keep people’s interest and even entice them to spend boatloads of cash on micro-transactions for skins (but that’s a story for a different day).

So, even if it seems ludicrous to some that NERF is making Fortnite-inspired blasters and that you can buy real-life PUBG backpacks and helmets, the reality is that people have bought into these games on a scale that has not yet been seen. Don’t be too quick to count these titles out as ‘fads’ or ‘for kids’, they’re here to stay.