Brendan 'Playerunknown' Greene and publisher Bluehole announced today that the hit "battle royale" (think "survival meets the Hunger Games") game Playerunknown's Battegrounds has sold more than one million copies in its first 16 days on Steam Early Access. The game has remained in the top three concurrent user count on Steam since it launched, peaking at more than 89,000 simultaneous players and it also has over 150,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch. There are more than 2,000 streamers streaming every day. To date, Battlegrounds has been featured on nearly 40,000 streams for a total of more than 5 million minutes streamed since launch. Needless to say: it's a hit.
"I always knew that the Battle Royale game mode was going to be popular," Greene said in a recent Glixel profile. "When I was first interviewed at Bluehole, the executive director asked me how many copies I expected to sell, and I said 'a million month one, easy.' I don't want to come off as arrogant, but I always suspected it would be popular."
The driving idea behind Playerunknown's Battlegrounds is that triple-A studios are underestimating their player-base. A radical new direction – like say, a tactical survival-shooter with no respawns or tutorials – wasn't guaranteed to have broad appeal. Battlegrounds is hard. You will die in frustrating ways. A posse of chuckleheads will often roll up on your hiding space in a military-grade Jeep and gun you down. It’s the sort of thing that might make someone rage quit, but Greene knew that players are patient enough to put up with those miseries in order to participate in a more fully-realized world. "When we were first designing Battlegrounds, I would put a suggestion forth and the team would say 'Oh, that's not how we were taught to make games,' and I would say 'Yes, but it works,'" he says. "I'm not an industry veteran. I don't know the engines. I don't know the technical limitations of a lot of the stuff we work with. So I say 'Well, what about this,' and the technical director will look at me with fire in his eyes, but it's given me a lot of creative freedom because I don’t know the rules"
What's next for Greene now that Battlegrounds is performing so well? "I want to create a spectacle in esports," he says. "I want 64 people sitting in the center of an arena with a stadium full of people watching. And then each player has to get up and walk off [as they're eliminated]" says Greene. "From day one, I've always thought of esports as a final point for this. But we want to grow the esport organically through the community. If it's meant to happen, it will happen."