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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds just did the impossible. It had more simultaneous players online through the Steam PC gaming service than Dota 2, according to data-tracking site Steam Spy. This is an incredible achievement because few releases have ever come close to threatening Dota 2’s concurrent player number. And that makes sense because Dota 2 is a free-to-play game that belongs to Valve, the same company that owns and operates Steam. This feat is even more impressive because Battlegrounds costs $30 to play and is still in the Early Access program for unfinished projects, so it is overcoming a higher barrier to entry and an extreme lack of polish.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a last-person-standing shooter available now for the PC. Developer Bluehole Studio produced the megahit based on inspiration from the Japanese book and film series Battle Royale. The goal is to drop on a map with 99 other people and outlive them all. Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene, who is creative director on his eponymous shooter, first developed this concept as a mod for games like DayZ and H1Z1. But now that this idea is finally standing on its own, it has caught on with a mammoth audience that can’t get enough.

Bluehole is coming off a strong week for Battlegrounds. The company recently announced 8 million copies sold, and it just finished the Gamescom PUBG Invitational esports tournament in Germany. The latter likely helped feed back into both the sales and the new peak concurrent players. The competitive event shot Battlegrounds to the top of Twitch in terms of viewership, and the more people who watch PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the more people seem to want to buy it for themselves.


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All of this momentum comes before Battlegrounds has gone through its first holiday or even had a single discount. As we get into the holidays, it’s likely that it could continue to see higher and higher peaks to keep up with or potentially even regularly surpass Dota 2.

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