PLAYERUNKOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS: Battle Royale Simulator Now Sixth Most Popular PC Game in the Market
PLAYERUNKOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) has been the breakout hit of 2017 shaking up the $29.4 billion PC games market. The shooter has sold eight million copies since it entered early access in March 2017, according to publisher Bluehole, and was the third most viewed game on Twitch in July.
PUBG’s success is further evident when looking at data from our recently launched PC Game Tracker. In July, PUBG was the sixth most popular game among core PC gamers worldwide, with 10.8% playing the title. It ranked above games like World of Warcraft, GTA V, and Rocket League, and was just behind fellow shooter Overwatch. It was also #6 in terms of play time, accounting for 4.0% of the total time spent on PC games in July. The data in the article is derived from Overwolf’s user base of 12 million PC gaming enthusiasts across 42 countries.
The popularity of PUBG has also catapulted its publisher, Bluehole, into the PC gaming big leagues. In July, the Korean publisher was the fifth biggest in terms of popularity, performing better than big cross-platform publishers like EA, Rockstar, and Ubisoft.
Using our PC Game Tracker, we analyzed the title’s rapid rise, including popularity per country and how it’s impacting the performance of other top PC games.
BATTLE ROYALE THEME PUSHES PUBG TO #1 IN JAPAN
Despite being ranked at #6 on a global scale, the popularity of Battlegrounds shows noticeable differences per country. It is the top performing game in Japan where 25.4% of core PC gamers played the game in July, 5% more than the #2 game, League of Legends. Japan is generally a console-focused market, so PUBG’s popularity is limited to a relatively small number of PC enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it is significant to see it achieve such a position of dominance so quickly.
PUBG’s strong position in the territory can also be seen in the amount of time players are spending in the game. The average session length of 69.5 minutes is among the highest in the world. The game’s strong resonance with Japanese players is perhaps unsurprising considering it is heavily influenced by the cult classic Japanese movie, Battle Royale. Like the movie, up to one hundred players are sent to an island where they need to find weapons and kill each other to survive.
In the interactive graph below, you can see the most popular games and publishers from March to July, based on the share of core PC gamers.
Visit the original post to use the interactive dashboard.
POPULARITY IN CHINA IS ON PAR WITH THE U.S.
While PUBG has found a natural home in Japan, it is also a global success story. It has achieved high percentages of players in many smaller territories, grabbing the attention of 22.5% of PC gaming enthusiasts in Norway, 21.9% in Australia, and 17.1% in New Zealand.
Additionally, the fight-to-the-death shooter has proven a big hit in the two largest games markets in the world. In the United States, 16% of PC players entered the battleground in July and PUBG accounted for 5.4% of the total play time. China has seen the steepest increase in popularity, with its player base almost doubling from 7.9% in June to 14.6% in July.
While PUBG has seen an impressive uptake in plenty of countries, it has struggled to break into some markets. Its performance has been muted in Russia, with only 5.7% of players indulging in the shooter. This also stretches further into Eastern Europe, with Poland and Bulgaria recording figures of 2.4% and 2.3%, respectively. Serbia recorded the lowest player percentage of 1.3%.
It’s hard to ascertain precisely why this has happened, but the region’s long-held preference for military shooters such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and vehicle battler World of Tanks could account for the relatively low levels of excitement in the region. In Poland for example, just 2% of former CS:GO players have moved to PUBG.
The interactive heat map below shows the share of core PC players per country that played PUBG in July.
Visit the original post to use the interactive dashboard.
CHURN FROM FELLOW SHOOTER OVERWATCH IS THE HIGHEST
To determine the impact that PUBG is having on other popular PC titles, we examined crossover (gamers who played PUBG along with another title in a certain month) and churn rate to PUBG (expressed as a share of the gamers who played a certain game for at least two months but stopped and are playing another game or games).
In terms of crossover, Fellow Shooter Overwatch came out on top with 24.6% of its gamers playing both titles in July. CS:GO was close behind with 20.7%. Overwatch was also the highest in terms of churn. Of the people who stopped playing Overwatch in July, 25.2% were playing Battlegrounds. This was most pronounced in Japan where the figure was 54.7%. Churn from CS:GO was also high with 21.1% globally and 31.9% in the United States. Though the effect was less dramatic, games from other genres were not immune to the battleground effect. Of the people who stopped playing Minecraft and World of Warcraft in July, 14.2% and 19.6% were playing PUBG, respectively.
Looking back at the steady growth of players in the past few months, and with the official launch planned for the end of this year, we expect Bluehole to see an even bigger increase in player numbers in the coming months. Once the viral appeal of the title dies down, it will have to look harder at retention rates to keep its gamers engaged. Competitive titles that have been successful in retaining a large player base are easy to learn but hard to master. They keep players hooked by including advanced ranking systems, helping create esports scenes, and regularly refreshing the game with patches. PUBG has proven that it’s easy to learn, but keeping players motivated to master the game will be crucial in retaining its growing user base. It will be interesting to see the impact of the new additions that are planned for the game ahead of its early access exit, such as new maps, new game mechanics, and in-game skins.