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.