Nowadays, the core of the video game industry rely on innovations and emerging trends. A game can simply distinguish itself from its peers by offering original content, like a new game mode for instance.
This was MOBA video games case, which has been the market leader for almost 10 years. More recently, Battle Royal games took over, propelling Fortnite and Apex Legends, to the top of the video game rankings.
MOBAs, the spearhead of the last decade
A MOBA mode involves two teams of five players, who must destroy the opponent’s base to win the game. Each player controls a character with his own skill set.
If Warcraft III led the MOBAs way, 2009 still represents the golden age of this game mode, with League of Legends reaching the market. Its various game modes, its constantly renewed character catalogue and its free nature made it into the most played game in the world, with more than 13 million players connected every day in 2013.
Today, 13 e-sports leagues around the world, 109 teams and 545 professional players depict League of Legends’ global success.
The “Battle Royale” mode, the undisputed trend of the moment
The idea is simple : 100 players are launched on a map. Their goal is to eliminate the other players and to stay the last player alive. The Japanese movie “Battle Royale”, directed by Kinki Fukasaku and released in 2000, as well as the “Hunger Games” saga, inspired this phenomenon.
If nowadays, the « Battle Royale » mode is mainly linked to Fortnite and Apex Legends, they are far from being the first games to offer this mode to its players . Released in 1997, Saturn Bomberman was the first to do so, allowing players to compete against each others. More recently, Minecraft opened some “Battle Royale” like servers, following the Hunger Games saga success.
However, the PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds game, also known as “PUBG” and influenced by “DayZ” and “H1Z1”, encountered a terrific success when released in March 2017, bringing this game under the spotlight.
In August 2017, this game reached its first milestone and exceeded DOTA 2 by the number of players connected simultaneously (842.919 vs 877.844). In November 2017, PUBG also recorded 20 million games being sold.
The happiness of some makes the misfortune of others….
EPIC Games, among many others, didn’t waste their time before getting into this game mode, following the outstanding success of PUBG.
It was not EPIC Games’ first attempt to take advantage of an emerging trend, as they already tried and took advantage of the MOBAs success when they released “Paragon”. The game failed to gain the public’s attention, forcing the studio to cancel it for good.)
On September 26, 2017, and after only 8 weeks of development, EPIC Games decided to release Fortnite and its “Battle Royale” mode, a game that was initially focusing on construction, sort of like a Minecraft sibling, rather than on a survivor shooting game.
Unfortunately for PUBG, whose price is around 30 dollars, Fortnite has generated more enthusiasm among fans of the genre, especially because of its free nature but also its “cartoon-like” aspect, attracting the youngest on its servers.
By July 2018, Fornite had already recorded more than $1 billion in revenue. The game also saw a 65% increase in the number of players, from 125 to 200 million, between November and July. The 2.4 billion dollars generated by Fortnite in 2018 can only attest to its success.
Electronic Arts (also) wants its share of the cake
On February 4, 2019, Electronic Arts surprised the “Battle Royale” community with Apex Legends. EA took Fornite’s players and visibility the same way EPIC Games had taken PUBG’s.
EA promoted its game by hiring some prestigious gamers to share their first steps on Apex Legends as soon as the game came out.
Turns out their marketing method had a terrific success : only 72 hours after its release, the game recorded more than 10 million players and reached 25 million after the first week.
Apex Legends stands out thanks to its particularities and wide gameplay possibilities, such as its legends catalogue, offering a large panel of characters with their own assets and strengths. Apex Legends also draws in players who didn’t fit in Fortnite’s “building game” box, or in its childish graphic aspects.
This new “Battle Royale” game took the best from Fornite and PUBG to offer a unique experience to the community.
Nowadays, a game success generally means e-sport teams and tournaments. This mode is no exception.
However, the “Battle Royale” formula slightly differs from the current trend of team competitions. This game mode allows players to play competitions, either alone or in a small squad of 2 or 3 players. As opposed to usual MOBA (such as Dota 2 or League of Legends), or even shooting games, such as Counter Strike or Overwatch.
“MOBA” and “Battle royale”: sharing the stage rather than going to war?
MOBAs and Battle Royales share the global e-sport scene as well as the streaming visibility on platforms such as Twitch. The streaming audience is rhythmed by different e-sport competitions scheduled for every game. These competitions are becoming more frequent, providing content for e-sport spectators on a daily basis.
For the moment, the “Battle Royale” mode remains the community’s favorite due to its accessibility and the possibility of participating in large prize pool tournaments.
A $30 million reward for the winner of the Fortnite 2019 World Cup was recently announced. The finals will be held from the 26th to the 28th July 2019 in New York. This is a prize pool record, the previous one belonged to DOTA 2 and its 2018 tournament, with 25 million promised to the winner.
The accessibility is the major difference between the “Battle Royale” games and the MOBAs. When only the best players are likely to climb the rankings and try their luck in an e-sport structure in the MOBA mode, the “Battle Royale” one offer each player the possibility to participate in qualifying games.
On the other hand, the chance is much more present in this mode, compared to a MOBA, in which each action is a calculated strategic choice.
In addition, a community of very talented players is already present in MOBAs, such as League of Legends or DOTA 2, which may dishearten new players who would like to give it a try. In comparison, the “Battle Royale” genre is still fairly recent, allowing the vast majority of players to embark on the adventure.