Every few years in gaming culture you see a shift in the gaming zeitgeist. It doesn’t have to be the best selling genre, but it normally becomes a trendsetter for the industry. I believe that shift has happened again, and this time it is the Battle Royale.
So, what is this Battle Royale? In short, a survival open-world game with a last man standing mechanic. You go into a world, find what you need to survive, and the last person left alive wins. It’s a simple mechanic, but one that people cannot get enough of right now. Why? One word, tension.
Games like H1Z1: King of the Kill, and PlayerUnknown’s Battelgrounds have mastered that tension. Not only for the player, but for those who watch matches on platforms like Twitch. The unexpected can, and will happen in this genre. Your character may have the best equipment, you may have the best strategy, but it all can go absolutely haywire in a blink of an eye. That tension is what keeps people playing, and people watching.
Gaming tends to go through these cycles. Something comes along just at the right moment, and even when that genre loses some luster — the impact of that genre will have an impact in gaming for years to come. The MMORPG was that genre for a while. The MOBA has been the reigning champion of that crown recently. Yet, I fully expect the Battle Royale genre to usurp that title in the next year, or so. That doesn’t mean the other genres have stopped being popular. Far from it. Yet, I foresee a Battle Royale mechanic being added to many games in the near future. Games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and even fantasy laden games could implement this.
It’s also a genre that that can be expanded on. The Battle Royale genre as it is, is not new. There have been ‘Last Man Standing’ modes for years. Yet, a genre changing event tends to evolve from other genres. The MOBA developed from real-time strategy games. The MMORPG sprung from implementation of multiplayer in the computer RPG genre. Evolution take place slowly but surely until something captures people’s attention.
Yet, the growth of this genre may get hindered quickly. The gaming industry, now more than ever, tends to jump on trends. Then they grind them into the ground. The Triple A industry is not the only one culpable in this. The indie scene has pushed the open world survival genre insistently with the constant onslaught of low effort also ran releases. If the same fate is set for Battle Royale it’ll be a shame, but I expect it’s impact will be felt in releases for years to come.