The Battle Royale Genre Isn’t Esports Ready

By Corey Dieteman

August 3, 2018

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Epic Games announced in May that they would provide $100 million for Fortnite esports tournament prize pools in the first year of competitive play. Earlier this year, PUBG Corp.released that they will be hosting the PUBG Global Invitational that will see 20 pro PUBG teams battle for a prize pool of $2 million. These announcements had me thinking about the battle royale genre and is it esports ready?

The simple answer is no. Personally, I think that battle royale games still have a way to go to become a legitimate esports genre. There are a few flaws in the game mode that prevents it from being truly balanced and competitive. A few of the flaws that I can think of are the RNG factor, hacks, point system and the lack of camera angles for viewers.

The RNG Factor

The primary issue with battle royale games and their quest to become an esports game is the “RNG” factor. RNG is an acronym for “random number generator,” but in gaming it means the chances of getting an item drop, finding an item, or landing a hit.

RNG plays a considerable part of all battle royale games because it comes down to pure luck on finding the better weapon. An example of this would be that in Fortnite, you and your opponent land and enter the same place. The both of you each get a chest, yours only has potions, while he has an assault rifle. That leaves you out of luck and more than likely going to die.

Where is the competitive balance in that? There was no skill involved in that situation, only luck. It’s not just for Fortnite too because it happens in PUBG and H1Z1. Whoever finds the gun first or finds the better weapon will typically win. Yes, skill in the games can play a factor, but on an equal playing level, it’ll come down to the better weapon.

The argument with this can be well it’s just a part of the game and people going in know that and they must deal with it. Which is fair, it affects everyone that is playing so its balanced in that sense, but I can’t see it working competitively.

Cheats and Hacks

With any multiplayer game, there are always going to be people that try to find exploits and cheat or use hacks. It’s the same with battle royale games, if not worse than any other games. I know for PUBG that primary cheats that people are using are aim-bot and wall hacks to see opposing players. While in Fortnite, I recently saw a person using a building script to build a structure automatically.

Although, PUBG and its anti-cheating company BattlEye are attempting to put an end to the cheaters. In February, BattlEye reported that they banned over 1,044,000 cheaters in January, but cheating continues to escalate. In April, 15 people were arrested in China for allegedly creating and selling hacks for the battle royale game. The hacks that were being sold ended up hosting a virus that can scan their data and extract information illegally.

Some may argue that cheating or hacks wouldn’t happen in an actual tournament, but guess what? It already has! And it wasn’t just any small tournament; it was the PUBG Invitational tournament at IEM Katowice. OpTic Gaming, one of the largest esports teams in the world, had a member use a wallhack during the match. It was picked up on stream, and the team ended up losing out on $12,000 in prize money after finishing second.

Point Structure

The issue with the point structure for battle royale games is that there isn’t a set standard.

The way Fortnite tournaments have been held is the team or person with the most kills in the round advance. This current set up only works if you are playing solo or duos because you will be required to pair up with your opponent to play in the same match. The issue with this is that the match can directly come down to luck for a team. One team finds legendary weapons, while the other side can only find epic and rare. It doesn’t offer truly balanced gameplay for competitive tournaments.

H1Z1 has an interesting point structure for their pro league. They reward teams for their eliminations in the matches but also reward them for their final position by adding a position multiplier. So, for example, a team who finishes a game in second place with five eliminations will earn eight points because of the 150% position multiplier.

The best point structure that I’ve seen so far is what PUBG is using for their tournaments. It rewards a squad for their kills and their placement in matches. Every kill gets a team 10 points and then if they finish first they receive 300 placement points, while if they finish last, they will earn 30 points. This seems to be the fairest way to structure an esports tournament for battle royale games competitively.

Camera Angles

An essential aspect of esports is how the viewer can watch their favorite competitor in action. This is difficult for battle royale games to achieve in esports competitions. Video game companies and those who are hosting tournaments need to make it an enjoyable experience for the viewers, or it won’t succeed.

In PUBG, tournament casters can show a general map overview showing where everyone is on the map and can even zoom in when teams are close. I’ve also seen where they can get players point-of-views in the game, but there isn’t a set camera for each competitor. Which I think stinks, because if you are rooting for someone specific, you’d like to see their point-of-view for the whole match.

I’m assuming this will be the same in upcoming Fortnite tournament structure if they can do custom matches with 100 people competing against each other in the same lobby. Players are currently unable to create their own custom matches. Nothing has been mentioned yet on the future structures of their tournaments, so it will be exciting to see what happens.

Conclusion

Battle Royale games might be the hottest game genre on the market, but they still need to hash out a few issues to make it esports ready. They need to figure out how to make it more competitively balanced for their competitors. Also, they need to think about the fans first because without the fans and their interests; these tournaments wouldn’t happen.

Do you think I left anything out on why battle royale games aren’t esports ready or do you disagree? Let me know down in the comments.

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