PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds won’t launch on Xbox One until next month, but players aren’t waiting to get into some battle royal action on consoles and PC. Epic’s Fortnite, which has a free last-player-standing mode, has surpassed 20 million total players, according to the developer. This is not earning any money directly for Epic, but it is raising the profile of the Fortnite brand and its paid defensive shooter mode.
Fortnite is available on PC as well as Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and that 20 million player counts everyone across those platforms who has ever downloaded and booted it up.
This shows the hunger that players have for this kind of gameplay, which first came to prominence with the H1Z1: King of the Kill in 2016 and then with this year’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Both of those games were overseen in part by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene, who is now the creative director at the PUBG Corporation. As the lead designer on PUBG, he has helped guide it to huge sales success with more than 13 million copies sold worldwide.
Comparing player number between Fortnite and PUBG may seem to favor the latter, but that would not take the price difference into consideration. Battlegrounds is $30 on Steam, and it is also not yet available on any console. Despite that, it is one of the year’s most lucrative games. We will have to see if that momentum carries over to December 12 when the Xbox One audience has a chance to buy PUBG or continue playing the free Fortnite.
The rivalry between Epic and The PUBG Corporation (and its parent company Bluehole) goes beyond competing games. PUBG Corp uses Epic’s Unreal Engine to make Battlegrounds. When Epic announced its own Battle Royale mode, Bluehole vice president Chang Han Kim released a statement saying that he didn’t “feet that it’s right.” The objection is that the PUBG team was working with Epic, and then a Battle Royale mode showed up in Epic’s game. Nothing has come of that since, but maybe Bluehole will lash out again if the console market doesn’t end up latching onto PUBG in the same way that PC players have.