Who plays PUBG every day

"PUBG" is three years old: The last anniversary for the former blockbuster?

In January 2018 Playerunknown's Battlegrounds set an unprecedented record on the Steam distribution platform. Around 1.6 million players played the game that had helped the battle royale genre to break through, on average at the same time. On the best day there were even over 3.2 million. Two years later, the game is a long way from these values ​​and the player base has shrunk massively. In the last 30 days - as of March 22nd via Steam Charts - there were an average of 228,000 players every day. It was 576,000 on the best day.

At other development studios you would probably give a lot to even reach these numbers. But they should be an alarm signal for PUBG Corporation. While "oldies" like CS: GO seems to be flourishing at times of coronavirus curfews PUBG so far not even being able to benefit from this favorable situation for multiplayer games. There are many reasons for this, but a good part of the misery has grown on the dung of the developers. An analysis.

"External" factors

The "external" factors should be examined first. Of course, it is difficult for an existing game to keep all players happy over the long term. Some new participants only realize after a while that they are not really interested in the game after all, or after many months have simply "played their fill". You take a long break or jump to other tracks.

There is plenty of competition. It ranges from the brightly colored Fortnite about the scifi setting of Apex Legends up to the recently published Call of Duty-Decoupling Warzone. Every new publication costs PUBG Of course, at least in the short term, players who are curious and try out the alternatives. But that doesn't have to be a big deal, as you can still stand out from the other titles with a unique, semi-realistic gaming experience and thus avoid too much overlap in terms of target audience.

Unheard of community

But it is precisely when it comes to this aspect that the community is always raging. It is nothing new that gameplay decisions are discussed intensively. But rarely did they encounter consistently negative feedback in this rapid succession. In autumn 2019, the PUBG Corporation decided to revise the repeatedly criticized sound system. With a new "volume curve" and the associated reduction in the "listening distance", however, it was more difficult to locate other players. To this day there are calls for a withdrawal.

The most recent example is a change introduced with the latest patch 6.3. A weapon that was previously only available at an increased risk from boxes dropped by aircraft, the M249 light machine gun, can now be found everywhere on the maps. A step that many in the community had warned against and against which even popular streamers like WackyJacky101 had mobilized. Because the M249 is considered to be extremely powerful, as it has a very large magazine and is relatively easy to control when shooting.

Nevertheless, the plan was implemented. Only the idea of ​​also delivering the M249 in every aircraft crate was rejected. Since then, developers have had to listen again not to take player feedback seriously. In addition, there are at least strategically questionable decisions. For example, a new team deathmatch mode was introduced, although in some regions matchmaking for classic battle royale is hardly possible on some maps and maps have sometimes been temporarily deactivated for this reason.

It is not surprising that some players believe that PUBG-Mourn the inventor and former creative director Brendan "Playerunknown" Greene, who is now devoting himself to other projects. Whether better decisions would have been made under his leadership is, of course, mere speculation.

Technology debacle again and again

The technical situation of the game also contributes to the growing gap between players and developers. Has been since its early access phase PUBG a reputation for being anything but a good example of good optimization. And again and again there were phases in which some of the players complained about performance problems and major bugs.

Since Season 6 was ushered in in January, this problem has reached a new high. Lots PUBGGamers - including the author of these lines - have been plagued by massive drops in the frame rate since one of the newer patches, some of which lead to a "freeze" of up to several seconds and make the game react with a delay for minutes and thus make it practically unplayable. The first reports were more than two months ago. Finally, a bug fix was played that should potentially have fixed this. However, the situation only got better for some of those affected, while the same problems suddenly started for others.

It's just one of many technical flaws that Battle Royale keeps annoying its players. The game was originally created by inexperienced developers. Accordingly, it should be difficult to find the problems in the "spaghetti code" below and to fix them in the long term. It is not surprising that you occasionally read calls for a complete reboot of the game.

Cheater invasion

But even the players, for whom the shooter runs reasonably smoothly, cannot avoid having to be annoyed again and again. Because PUBG is regularly haunted by cheaters, and currently there seems to be a phase again in which the anti-cheat mechanisms of the game have to be comprehensively readjusted.

Of course, it is not easy in terms of programming to recognize every manipulation. But if players are regularly at the top of the rankings, whose kill and win rate could not possibly have been achieved by fair means, the understanding of the community draws to a close. And that of well-known streamers like Kaymind, who are increasingly turning their backs on the game. It is evident that the manufacturer is having serious problems dealing with the phenomenon.

E-sports misery

Last, but not least, things are not looking well in the e-sports sector either. Even before the coronavirus pandemic prevented the reopening of the continental leagues, things were boiling. Numerous clans - such as Cloud9, Player One E-Sports, Team Vitality, Dignitas and the Pittsburgh Knights - left operations after just one year in the North American professional league NPL at the end of 2019. At Christmas, esports director Jake Sin resigned as a result of a "reorganization".

Several team leaders told "E-Sports Insider" their displeasure with the way NPL and PUBG Corp dealt with them. Broken promises and a lack of communication were at the top of the list of allegations.

The great silence

The gaming community can generally tell you a thing or two about that. Even on the current performance problems, the PUBG Corp only makes irregular statements. A detailed roadmap for 2020 announced for early March has still not been published. Even in the birthday blog post, in which you praise yourself for your own achievements, there are only vague hints to read - and of course the promise that you will of course want to solve the "urgent problems".

It wouldn't be the first broken announcement. In 2018 the "Fix PUBG" campaign was started, in the course of which the aim was to fix numerous major technical problems in the game. For a good two months they seemed to stay well on course before there were delays and the project finally disappeared halfway through.

Gloomy prospects

Still has PUBG Hundreds of thousands of players, with whom one can probably finance oneself sufficiently. The corona crisis should also help to keep the further decline within limits for the time being. However, the game is crumbling on many fronts, and the mood on Reddit and in the official forums is accordingly negative.

The exit restrictions will probably be over in a few weeks or months. Until then, PUBG Corporation should come up with a clear plan for the game's future. Otherwise, the third birthday for the Battle Royale pioneer might have been the last. (Georg Pichler, March 24th, 2020)