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How can PUBG be addictive to billions of people?

How can PUBG be addictive to billions of people?

Whether you play games, you must have heard "Battle Royale game" in your life, because it is so popular. What is a "Battle Royale game"? This game is called "PUBG", and PLAYER UNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

Chier Hu, Blogger

January 22, 2021

18 Min Read

How can PUBG be addictive to billions of people?


Whether you play games, you must have heard "Battle Royale game" in your life, because it is so popular. 

What is a "Battle Royale game"? 

This game is called "PUBG", and PLAYER UNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS.How popular is this game? 

I can give you a number-since "PUBG" became popular more than two years ago, it has directly derived a new game category with a global coverage of more than 500 million users and an annual output value of up to 10 billion US dollars. The same type of games were later uniformly called "Battle Royale games"! 

Moreover, this category not only appeared the phenomenal game "PUBG", but also gave birth to "Fortnite", the most popular game in the world on PC in 2018, with a monthly revenue of up to US $300 million!


Before the launch of "Battle Royale Game", the vast majority of people in the game industry thought it was unlikely to become popular, so why did everyone get it wrong? 

In the Battle Royale game, not only "PUBG" appeared, but also "Fortnite", a more popular style, appeared. What did it do right? 

What are the future opportunities in this game category? 

Below I will interpret the real secret behind the popularity of this game.


1. Special "exit cost management" of Battle Royale games. 


First of all, let me analyze with you the real secret of the popularity of the Battle Royale game. 

Even if you have never made a game, as long as you have played a video game, you must know, "when you first start playing a game, what are game makers most afraid of?" They are afraid that you will find it too difficult. If it is difficult at first and you will lose every time you play, you will choose to quit directly.

How to reduce the chances of players to quit is called "exit cost management" in the game industry. 

Managing the exit cost of the game can be regarded as the first lesson in game design. 

Most game practitioners must want to keep more players in the game as much as possible, so that they are interested in your game bit by bit. 


We are familiar with the rules of game design-- usually the first level, which makes it easy for you to kill some minions/winions/creeps. 

The second level is a little more difficult, and then the next few levels become more difficult…step by step, and it will not be difficult to encounter a small boss. When you finally hit the big BOSS, you are already familiar with all the operations of the game, and your role has been upgraded more severely, even if you die a few times, but in the end you can get through and clear the customs. 

They will not design some cruel threshold to force you away early, we call this "exit cost management".


"Battle Royale Game" breaks the old concept of "exit cost management" among game practitioners. 


Let me tell you how intuitively cruel and "anti-human" the rules of the game are. 

Let me start with the original origin of the way Battle Royale is played. 

From the perspective of play, Westerners call this game Battle Royale. 

The word comes from a Japanese film "Battle Royale" in 2000, which was once all the rage. 

This film is set about the future society of Japan. Adults are particularly afraid of young people. They send the whole class of middle school students to desert islands to play this cruel Battle Royale game. 

The children of a class kill each other on a desert island. In the end, only one person survives. If they are disobedient, everyone dies.

The way the game "PUBG" is played draws lessons from the movie. Basically, 100 players are airdropped to an island where they can pick up all kinds of weapons and equipment, as well as means of transportation. They kill each other and finally decide the only winner. 

For those of us who develop games, the first reaction when we see this movie is: "Hey? Isn't this a game in itself? " 

The whole movie is about a survival game on a desert island. Can we turn it into a video game? 

But when did "PUBG" appear? 


In other words, in the more than ten years since the movie was released, few game practitioners have really tried to turn it into a game!



This involves "exiting cost management". 

This cruel rule, after you watch that movie, you think you can't stand it anymore. It's crazy. 

If a game throws a new player in a cruel arena and lets him compete with all the other players, there are veterans and novices. In the Battle Royale movie, several veterans and masters who survived in the previous Battle Royale are deliberately introduced into the game, why, in order to make the killing more brutal. 

We intuitively think that this kind of design seems to be anti-human, which is inconsistent with the usual core design concept of the game. 

So even if we see this opportunity, it is actually easy to design the rules of this movie into a game, but not many people really put it into practice, and even when the game first appeared, they were still not optimistic about its success. It's what we call misreading.


2. What are the implications of the PUBG pandemic? 


The design of "PUBG" is completely contrary to our traditional concept, why is it so abnormal that it can still be successful? 

In retrospect, we analyzed that "Battle Royale Game" did three things right, and I summed it up into three key words: economies of scale, randomness, and sense of control. 

First of all, let's analyze why gamers are not driven away by the cruelty of the game. 

The core key point is the number of participants in a single game. 

The e-sports games we have seen before, especially those between people, are usually based on a group of one to four or one to five people. 

They are mainly one-on-one direct confrontations, so you must want to win every game you come in. 

If you lose, you will be very uncomfortable, because if it is an one-to-one confrontation, it is basically a 1/2 probability. 

However, if 100 people come into this game at the same time, your whole state of mind will be completely different. 

You don't come in every game and think, "I should win, I shouldn't lose."


Therefore, the real Magic Number lies in the number of participants in this single game. 

These 100 people are a triple digit, and when you hear this number, when you first enter the game, you will never say, "I will eat chicken today. I am the final winner of the 1%. " 

This is the scale effect caused by the increase in the number of single-board participants. 

In other words, "the increase in the number of people in a single game brings about a qualitative change." this qualitative change will not happen when there are five people, or even 20 people, but when it reaches the number of 100, a qualitative change will take place. 

When the number of people in a single game is expanded to 100, the proportion of randomness of the game is greatly increased, the proportion of players' skill requirements is greatly reduced, and the leisure degree of the whole game is increased, and everyone can participate. On the contrary, you don't have to be skillful.


PUBG has also made a lot of special designs to match economies of scale. 

For example, it's not like a traditional competitive game — if I die, I have to watch someone else play until the end of the game and then start the next game. Why? 

Because traditional competitive games are often group games, you have a team that has been trained to know each other for a long time, so you have to wait for others to finish the game, because you have to be with them for another game. You can't just match other players. 

But now the situation of these 100 people is different. When you die, you leave at any time, no one has to wait, you can start the next game immediately, without wasting time, and quickly weaken the pain of death. 

Therefore, the rhythm of the whole game is not as cruel as we intuitively imagine, but becomes more casual and relaxed, which is a important core point!


Later, we analyzed this psychological model of, Battle Royale games, in fact, we are all familiar with it. 

The old game of casinos is the real psychological model of Battle Royale games. 

"winner winner chicken dinner". In the casino, I can have a meal of chicken if I win. 

The first moment you walked into the casino, did you want to win money in it? 

Do you think "you will be the winner when you walk out of the casino"? 

Basically, I think most people probably go in just for fun. Why? 

Because there are too many participants, do you think you are the one who can win a lot of money from the casino? 


There are too few such people. 

When most people enter the casino, the mentality is not to win, but to relax and entertain.


There is also, for example, buying a lottery ticket. when you buy a lottery ticket, of course you expect you to win, but you don't have that strong "I should be able to win", or "with my skills, I should be able to win this lottery ticket." you don't expect that much. 

So on the other hand, if you can really win money from the casino and really win the lottery, your excitement is much higher than that of Battle Royale. 

Why do so many people go to the casino and buy lottery tickets so much that he is willing to go even if he has almost no chance of winning? 

Looking back and analyzing it, is it the same as the way we analyzed Battle Royale just now? 

Because the psychological expectation it gives players is entertainment. If I lose this game, I will have another one right away. Anyway, I will be high, if I win the bet, because I don't have that much hope.


Second, although the scale effect causes players to feel that the game is not so cruel, if you just stay in this way, you will certainly not be able to create a game that is so popular with such a wide audience around the world, what improvements has PUBG made? 

Another thing that PUBG does right is their design for randomness. 

Everywhere in the game is full of random elements, materials are placed at random, in which guns, vehicles, accessories, equipment, supplies, all things are randomly distributed on the map. 

Every time you jump out of the air, you may think, "I'm going to jump to a place with more buildings, where there are more random items," right? 

But don't forget that everyone else wants to jump there, too. Does that mean you have to consider the strategy of simply landing in a place where others don't want to land, and then sneaking in, and maybe you can find something good on the way? maybe steal something from a dead body that was killed by someone else, right?. 

So the whole game is full of all kinds of randomness, even if the equipment you pick up is good or bad, what kind of guns, whether you encounter any vehicles, these are completely unpredictable!

Which area you choose to jump in, then you can only know in a large area whether there are plains or hills, whether there are buildings or obstacles, and the rest, you have to land before you know if there are any other players around. So you can know what you can find here. 

Even the narrowing range of the "poisonous circle" is random, and you may be lucky to hide in a corner, and when the "poisonous circle" gets smaller and smaller, you find that you don't have to move at all. You've been in the smallest, the last circle, and in the end, everyone killed each other and died, and you hid there, and you won without moving.


All these factors are random, so even if you lose this game, you may boil it down to "bad luck this time", but if you win, even if you are completely lucky to win, you will feel particularly happy, why? 

That's a 1% chance! 

If it is an one-to-one game, after you win, you are just happy, but you only beat one opponent, but in the Battle Royale game, if you win, it is equal to "you indirectly or directly you beat 99 opponents"! 

The degree of pleasure is not the same as that! 

Weaker players or unlucky players may only eat chicken once in half a year, but once you eat chicken once, your excitement is far higher than "the thrill of winning a normal 1-on-1, 3-on-3, 4-on-4 small-scale game." 

The probability of winning the lottery is even lower, the lower the probability, the higher the excitement of winning!


The core fun of the game is immediately highlighted, that is to say-- you come in with a relaxed state of mind, you don't think you can win at all, but every time you really win, you feel extremely excited. and even every time you play, the first one is killed, and you feel frustrated, but the second time you find that you are ranked 98th, and two players died earlier than you. 

You think you're already excited, so once in a while you rush into the top 50, and you think it's the highest in history. Although you didn't eat chicken at all and you didn't win, you were also excited.


Does a game like this bring a completely different experience from traditional competitive games? 

That is, you feel as if you have a lot of leisure and feel less nervous and exciting, which is completely different from the extremely scary atmosphere we felt when we watched the movie "Battle Royale" and the intuition that drove the players back directly. 

Therefore, we should not trust our intuition at all, we should trust rational analysis, so that it is not easy to get it wrong. 

But there is a problem with the, Battle Royale game. 

Although the game is not so cruel and casual enough, you think that the only goal of the game is "only one winner in a hundred", and you'll probably get tired of losing a few times, which is not what game designers want to see. 

So what did PUBG do?


The third thing Battle Royale does right is to give players a strong sense of control. 

We talked about the importance of randomness earlier, but is it better to have as much randomness as possible? 

No, if the more random, the better, then Russian roulette should be the most popular game. 

Although there are a lot of random elements in the Battle Royale game, the game will work carefully to provide players with a lot of space and the possibility of their own choice. 

For example, even if I don't know "what kind of players will be waiting for me on the ground" and "what kind of materials will be waiting for me", I at least feel like "when do I choose to parachute, I probably want to jump on which map. I chose it myself." that is to say, if you lose this game, you may complain that "I chose it wrong" rather than that the game is too difficult. 

Or the result caused by the system throwing it to me in a bad place.


Even in the winning goals of the game, many different goals are designed for players. 

For example, I simply didn't come here to win this time. I just came in to find the gun I wanted most. I came here to collect it. 

In other words, when I came in this time, I was outside 90th last time, and I thought of a way to squeeze into the top 80th, and I was happy. In fact, you dispersed your goal, because Battle Royale is an impossible thing to meet, so there are many other goals in this game that you can also find ways to fight for besides Battle Royale. 

In fact, this is equivalent to providing players with a sense of self-control and a space for self-determination.


Here I'm going to give you some practical information about game design. 

All the well-designed games in game history actually make the player feel that he is controlling the character of the game and that he is controlling the rhythm of the game. 

But in fact, players have not yet run out of the world of game developers. 

When the game is more difficult to give players a sense of challenge, when it is less difficult to let players have a rest, in fact, are under the control of the designer. 

One of the core principles of game design is to "provide the player with a sense of control". Even if we have preset the outcome of the game, we must make the player feel that he is in control of his own destiny throughout the process. 

So, if he fails, or if he succeeds, he will think, "I failed because I was careless". If he succeeds, he will feel that "I succeeded because I am awesome”. Instead of being predetermined by all game designers, this is the highest realm of game design!


3. What are the prospects for games like "Battle Royale"? 


From "PUBG" to "Fortnite", what is the development of "Battle Royale game" now? 

Will there be such phenomenal games in the future? 

Here I give two predictions: 

First, probably not. "Battle Royale Game" has its own natural dilemma. 

Second, the "Battle Royale mode" created by, Battle Royale games will become the inherent way of playing more and more games in the future, rather than existing in the form of independent games all the time!


First of all, the game category itself has an inevitable natural dilemma. 

The first problem is that "it adds more random elements, and its skill is relatively reduced, so it will lead to the ultimate pursuit of competitive skill and fairness." that is, those who play e-sports are not so interested in these games. 

Whether it's "PUBG" or "Fortnite", they are trying to do e-sports for successful Battle Royale games like these. 

E-sports is poplar now, and everyone hopes to turn their video games into e-sports, so that more people can participate, have more bonuses, and have more people to watch. 

However, e-sports is not successful in this game, the reason is that there are too many random factors, and many experts have no way to clearly show their skills here. They are often made to lose the game inexplicably by unexpected events, so this is a core factor that hinders the electronic competition of this game!


The second problem is that, on the other hand, after playing for a long time, you will find that "skill can still have a stronger impact on the winning side of the game." 

Some experts who have been trained for several years often train a lot of combinations and team games, and when they enter the game, they are still dominant in most cases, so they will slowly force new users to withdraw from the game. 

It is inevitable to rely on it in a professional and competitive direction again. 

This creates the biggest dilemma of Battle Royale games--

On the one hand, it is not as competitive as e-sports. 

On the other hand, because of its leisure, there is no way to be as casual as playing a casual game. 

So the situation we have seen recently is also a little close to what we predicted, that is, the popularity of these mainstream Battle Royale games are slowly declining.


Therefore, so far, there is no new subversive innovation added to the Battle Royale game, which can once again create new waves like "Fortnite", and we are still active in tracking and observing it. 

But I think it is likely that the Battle Royale play of "Battle Royale" will become standard in many existing games. 

At present, we have seen some famous FPS games have launched Battle Royale play, such as Valve's "CS:GO", Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4", EA's "Battlefield V", and even the elimination game Tetris "Tetris 99", the strategy game "Civilization 6" and the MOBA game "Arena of Valor" which were originally out of touch with "Battle Royale" have also launched "Battle Royale" mode.


There are many examples like this, so I can predict with certainty that "there will be more games in the future to turn Battle Royale into one of the rich game modes, and people who like to play Battle Royale can play two games like Battle Royale in my game environment." 


Whether now or in the future, "Battle Royale games" has become a mainstream game with many possibilities, and the category of "Battle Royale games" may decline in the future, but this game will remain forever. 

In my opinion, "this is the sign of the real success of a game"-its original way of playing has gradually become the genetic fragment of most games, which is an achievement that can be recorded in the history of games!

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