Taking a step back from the economics and cryptocurrency deep dives this week, we thought it might be fun to write about a genre of gaming that has taken over the industry over the past few years to emerge as one of the most popular: Battle Royale. Originally based on the Japanese action-thriller film of the same name, Battle Royale is a game mode that involves survival until the last man is standing by any means necessary, whether that involves conflict, collusion, or something in between. Regardless of whether you have seen children mimicking Fortnite dances in the street or for TikTok videos, or were an early adopter who played some of the earliest mod-based Battle Royale games like DayZ, odds are that you have heard about this prolific game type one way or the other. In this article, we aim to discuss what has made Battle Royale such a popular genre up until now, as well as what the future might hold.
Battle Royale is actually an incredibly simple game type. Players are spawned into an arena with only one life — that’s right, no respawns. While the genre has generally been defined by first person shooters, it does not have to be, yet the core tenants of survival and no respawns remains — whether players are shooting at each other, zombies, or merely fending off the elements. In order to progress the gameplay forwards, Battle Royale game types are also usually characterised by an ever-shrinking circle that forces players to evacuate their hiding spots and face the music. This helps players to feel invested in each match that they are currently playing, while simultaneously not allowing matches to run on for hours or days at a time.
Streaming platforms like Twitch have seen viewership numbers soar along with the rise of Battle Royale and this is no surprise. The potent combination of game mechanics and desire to be the last one standing in Battle Royale often leads to dramatic outcomes — perfect for live viewing, where spoilers can’t ruin the experience.
Combine all of this together: when two streamers go face to face with scores of fans rooting for them, it almost starts to feel like real-time reality television. While real-time reality television certainly sounds very exciting, Twitch and the litany of web 2.0 platforms servicing this industry have their own host of problems, which makes us wonder: what will the future look like?
One obvious, albeit perhaps overly-talked about avenue is virtual reality. Rather than spectating (or playing) a match on a computer screen, virtual reality can bring a level of immersion that simply is not possible with screens. There are already some early examples, though admittedly they haven’t received the same notoriety as Fortnite or PUBG. Web3 and cryptocurrency can also play a role in the future of Battle Royale, with the addition of decentralised CDN networks, NFTs and play-and-earn mechanics. This would serve to address many of the pain points for players who spend their hard-earned money on these games, via disintermediation and decentralisation. Perhaps somebody will get inspired by our previous article on play-and-earn gaming and implement a decentralised server infrastructure for one of these games too. This would allow players to have a say in the features that they would like to maintain.
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