The Battle Royale genre has taken over the video game industry. Since March 2017, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has been the talk of the town. From reaching the top of the Steam charts to launching exclusively for consoles on Xbox One, PUBG became a surprise hit. Late last year, Epic Games released Fortnite Battle Royale, a free multiplayer experience set in the Fortnite universe. Although similar to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite Battle Royale includes the game’s signature charm and unique gameplay mechanics. The popular game is PUBG’s biggest competition, so it’s surprising to me that the Xbox Twitter account is promoting the competition.
Earlier today, Xbox tweeted the following:
— Xbox (@Xbox) March 7, 2018
Honestly, this doesn’t make sense to me at all. Over the past few months, Fortnite Battle Royale became the juggernaut that no one expected. It started to surpass PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Last month, the game had 3.4 million concurrent players, compared to PUBG‘s 3 million concurrent player count in January. Just this week, Fortnite Battle Royale became the most watched game on Twitch. The game is really entertaining and provides a different type of Battle Royale experience than PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, despite the similarities. Quite possibly the biggest draw for Fortnite is that the game is free compared to the $29.99 price point for PUBG.
A free game will always be more appealing than a game that costs money to play. Fortnite Battle Royale is on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 while PUBG is only on Xbox One and PC. A game with broader reach will typically do better. What works in Fortnite’s favor is that Epic Games is consistently adding in new modes, events, and season three just started. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, on the other hand, is a different story. While the Xbox One version is being updated and fixed frequently, there is a disconnect between the PC and console versions. On PC, the game recently left Early Access and received a new map. On Xbox One, it’s still in Game Preview, there hasn’t been a second map yet, and I feel like it’s taking a backseat to the PC. Since both versions are on different builds, it’s understandable but unfortunate that Xbox One seems to always be lagging behind.
Despite the issues, Xbox should always be promoting PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s the game that made an unexpected splash at the company’s E3 press conference in 2017. A Game Preview title doesn’t just sell 1 million copies in two days without consistent promotion and anticipation. Not only that, Microsoft has a marketing deal with Bluehole. It’s very weird for Xbox to be highlighting the competition through a Twitter account that 12.7 million people follow. All of those people can see that you have the option to play an excellent, free, game on Xbox One. What if a massive chunk of those people move away from PUBG and focus on Fortnite Battle Royale?
That would be terrible for both Microsoft and Bluehole. What’s worse is that Xbox is promoting the fact that Fortnite Battle Royale is free. I’m not in marketing, but that seems like an unwise decision on Xbox’s part. Fortinite: Battle Royale keeps gaining popularity, and I don’t think this will stop anytime soon. In fact, I think that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will be phased out in a while if Microsoft doesn’t keep on promoting the game they invested in. Why put a game exclusively on your console and not help it to succeed. People still play PUBG, and I don’t think it’s going to die anytime soon, but there needs to be a push to gain more players into the game. What if Microsoft made a deal to make PUBG free to play so that it can compete with Fortnite Battle Royale on equal ground? What can the company do to take down Fortnite?
This morning’s tweet is not only concerning but it also makes me think that Microsoft doesn’t have any faith in the game that they campaigned for since E3 2017. Marketing deals are complicated, and I obviously don’t know all the details, but I think there’s something wrong about promoting the competition. Tweeting out a Fortnite advertisement when you’re flagship Game Preview title is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is like if Sony tweets about a game that Microsoft has a marketing deal for. While it might not mean anything right now, the consequences for pushing people toward Fortnite Battle Royale may have horrible repercussions for Microsoft and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in the long run.