Battle royale games are all the rage on the App Store at the moment. A couple of weeks ago we looked at the origins of the genre, but now it's time to get the crystal balls out and think about what might be the future for the giant deathmatches we all know and love. With PUBG and Fortnite both available for iOS now, and a good handful of clones out there as well, what can the genre do to stay relevant in a world as changeable as our own? Or is this going to be another flash in the pan genre that falls by the wayside before it's really had the chance to grow? Read on to find out what we think.
The next few months
One thing we can guarantee over the next few months is that there are going to be even more takes on the battle royale genre hitting the App Store. It's pretty common when a game on mobile does well to see other studios releasing their own version not too soon afterwards. The prime example in recent years is Clash Royale.
The interesting thing here though is that there are two pretenders to the throne, rather than just the one king like with Supercell's mini-MOBA. We'd definitely expect there to be more games hedging their bets and sticking to the tried and tested formula laid down by PUBG, rather than adding in building elements like Fortnite.
That's not to say there won't be Fortnite clones. In fact, there are already a few out there. But there's a good chance that Fortnite is going to retain some of its originality and authenticity over the next couple of months. It's just a more complex game to copy, whereas PUBG, for all of its success, is actually pretty generic when you pare it back to its bones.
To eSport or not to eSport
One thing that's driven the popularity of battle royale games has been streaming and video influencers. The question is though, how will the games cope if they make the transition over to the eSports realm. For one thing, a hundred players at a time are pretty difficult to fit into the same space. Where MOBAs and other successful eSports genres rely on small teams, that's not something you get with battle royales.
Which means we're probably going to see smaller battle royale games hitting the App Store soon. These will be tailored to team-based play, on smaller maps, and feature fewer players. Whether or not they'll catch on in the same way as their bigger and older siblings is another question entirely. That's not going to stop developers from trying though.
The next year
One of the things that having two such massive competitors for the battle royale crown is that Fortnite and PUBG are going to be constantly trying to outdo each other. In a way, that could be incredibly good for players, as the dev teams try and get the newest innovations in front of them in the shortest time possible.
On the flip side of that though, it could mean rushed updates and frustrated fans. There's definitely a line that needs to be carefully walked here, because the similarity of the two games means that floating fans aren't going to be too troubled about jumping ship and taking up the other game if things go bad with their current love.
That also means there could well be space for new innovators to move in and try something new with the genre. There are a lot of variables here, and while Fortnite seems to be ahead of the pack at the moment, we'd expect some new challengers over the next 12 months to start nipping at the heels of Epic's almost-an-afterthought version of battle royale.
The next few years
Obviously the crystal ball gets a little foggier the further out we go, but one thing is clear - battle royale games need players. Getting a couple of people together is one thing, but putting a hundred into a game at once is a different matter entirely. If player numbers start to slip, then the games get boring pretty quickly.
Expect to see huge pushes from both Epic and PUBG Corp to keep their numbers up, and expect to see other devs and publishers throwing vast amounts of their marketing budgets into getting players for their own takes on the genre.
It'll be intriguing to see whether that leaves room in the genre for experimentation, which has so far been the cornerstone of what made it so exciting, or whether the higher demand for players is going to push devs into creating more and more standard versions of what was once such an exciting new way to play.
Got your own suggestions? Well make sure you let us know in the comments.