PUBG vs Fortnite

Full disclaimer, I am not a fan of the genre or either game. That said, I can appreciate the development approach to both games.  And is it ever an interesting approach.

PUBG is licensed off Epic.  It’s a B2P with micro transactions.  It was first to the party and was the king’s poop for quite a while.  Unfortunately, it was poorly optimized (read crashes and bugs), had long and empty stretches of nothing happening, and a struggle with customization/individual play styles.  Going for it — it was the only one on the market.

Let’s not dismiss that fact.  PUBG was first to market and spend nearly a year making more money than I could ever count.  It was proof that early access games could work.  It was also proof that early access games require a lot of polish to get ready for prime time.

Epic came in only a few months ago.  It already had the engine and needed a few tweaks to get the BR mode working.  By being 2nd (ish) to the game, they had the ability to play a ton of PUBG, read all the forums, parse their noted, and build something that addressed every single gap.

Let’s time travel a bit shall we?  EQ was the first “major MMO”.  It was on market for a while and made a lot of money.  WoW wasn’t much of a thought at first, but they did something smart.  They hired the EQ top-end guild members to help build their game.  These people came in with minimal game development expertise, but a ton of actual gaming know-how.  WoW addressed nearly every single issue that EQ presented to gamers and provided a level of polish that wasn’t found before.

The irony here is that EQ had plenty of feedback to help address their gaps.  The choices they made to address some and not others is what paved the path for WoW.  It was like a giant beta test for Blizzard’s benefit.


And here we are now, looking at the PUBG vs Fortnite development teams making dramatically different design decisions for the playerbase.  PUBG missed nearly every single development milestone, and is grasping to stay relevant.  Fortnite is going full bore in marketing, the lowest possible denominator.  You know you have a winner when schools are talking about banning it during class.

The lesson here is that it’s meaningless to be first out of the gate if you aren’t actively trying to stay at the top.  PUBG had an unexpected amount of success and no plan to manage it.  Epic played it smart, saw all the foundational mistakes, and built a better product.  Given their size and history, they certainly have a much better chance at staying #1.

That is, until the BR craze dies down and the next big thing hits us all in the head.


10 thoughts on “PUBG vs Fortnite

  1. Technically, Daybreak’s H1Z1 was first to market with their “H1Z1: King of the Hill” spin-off, which was released in 2016. Here’s a Kotaku article from 2017 that talks about its incredible popularity in 2017, right when PUBG was ramping up. The MMO metaphor still works though, if you consider the evolution being something like Ultima Online –> EQ –> WoW though.

    It remains amusing though, considering how much flak WoW gets for radically changing the underlying nature of the game each expansion. Could it be because by changing its nature, WoW headed off competing titles such that they could not evolve into more marketable successors ala Fortnite (etc)?


    • Point taken on H1Z1. I was always more confused by the business decisions of that game vs the technical ones. I don’t give it enough credit for its trailblazing.

      re: WoW, that is my assessment as well. Aside from BC which was more of a refinement of vanilla, it could be said that each expansion was more of a sequel in terms of the scope of changes. It would be a fairly simple argument to make that there’s a larger difference between WoD and Legion than there is between Destiny 1 &2. Same for Diablo 3 vs RoS in fact. That re-invention keeps the boredom away… at least for a little while.


    • Heh, I came here too in order to say that somewhere an H1Z1 dev is muttering to themself about PUBG and then Fortnite stealing the market they initially owned.

      As for MMORPG development pedigrees, UO was on a very different track from EQ. UO is the logical MMO version of a series of Ultima games that started back in 1981, which have a pretty natural evolution over the years.

      EQ was the evolution of DikuMUDs in general, and TorilMUD specifically, to the 3D graphical space, which then inspired Blizzard to make WoW, a continuation in the refinement of that model. While there was no doubt some cross pollination and influence (Raph Koster, who worked on UO, was big in MUDs before that), but WoW and its mechanics has its roots in EQ and DikuMUD, the latter which was heavily influence by Dungeons & Dragons.


      • I think there’s something to be said about H1Z1 (Feb 2018) launching AFTER PUBG (Dec 2017), which in turn launched AFTER Fortnite (Sept 2017). Or maybe my dates are mixed up.

        Still, point taken that H1Z1 was the first “big” one. Loot crates from the sky, and all.


      • Well, that gets us into whether or not early access counts as launching or not. H1Z1 has been in early access since January 2015. It only went live after is had lost 90% of its active users to PUBG on Steam.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. H1Z1 was a take on DayZ, which itself was an ARMA mod. Which of those games/mods/versions was close-enough to PUBG in terms of being a BR game can be debated, but PUBG itself was certainly not the first BR game. Hell, Player Unknown himself worked on H1Z1, and ARMA mods before that.

    Fortnite is a curious case too. The original version of the game was an outright failure, and the BR part was tossed in long after release. I still recall the Fortnite devs stating, at the release of the BR mod, that the PvE aspect of the game was still the focus. That changed pretty quickly. Personally I think PUBG has the stronger long-term future, Fortnite reeks of fad to me, while PUBG has the more solid base. But even if that turns out to be true, pretty profitable fad.


    • Fornite has a massive following on streaming services, and those views would have to hemorrhage to the next fad to see it lose some strength. Even if the game isn’t as solid as another technically, that doesn’t matter to the sways of public opinion. We bloggers are certainly a different demographic that what either of these games are aiming for.

      It’s more about taking bets as to when the fad shifts to something else.


      • Streamer views are far more fickle then even active players, which is saying something in the age of thousands of Steam games and F2P. Plus people watching someone else play something, while not nothing, isn’t nearly the same as them actively playing it, and more importantly, spending in-game. How many of Fortnites viewers are watching to see Fortnite, vs how many are watching because that’s what their favorite streamer has up? The first is very important, the second does next-to-nothing for your game.

        Consider Pokemon Go. Massive fad that quickly died, and not because the ‘next Pokemon Go’ came out, but simply because the fad was over the the underlying game wasn’t actually that good. IMO Fortnite is Pokemon Go.


      • Considering Pokemon:GO is still a top 10 game, and making more money than CoC… I dunno how that would define fad fading. Maybe more like Rocket League or For Honor? Or fidget spinners? I mean in terms of finance…

        In terms of “eyeball views” and discussion… I take your point. Fortnite is the zeitgeist. Once that fades, then it wonders how PUBG vs Fornite plays out.


      • Pokemon Go is number 32 in the app store right now for iPhone (think that’s sorted by downloads, might be revenue). It’s 10th overall on iTunes for top grossing, behind CoC at #6. Still much higher than I would have though, considering I haven’t heard anything about the game in months, but certainly off from its release peak. Not a perfect example, and you’re right, For Honor or something that really faded fast would have been better.


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