Interview with PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS PD - From eSports to new features

PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS has so far sold over 8 million copies since their release on Steam’s early access program - it has continued to stay in the top of the rankings for its streaming viewership on Twitch and for that fact it has had around half a million players playing at the same time on Steam. PUBG is clearly a game that is beloved worldwide.

We had the chance to meet the BATTLEGROUNDS PD, Changhan Kim, and ask him about the Gamescom Invitational and the XBOX version of the game at Gamescom 2017 in Cologne, Germany.


▲ BATTLEGROUNDS PD Changhan Kim at Gamescom 2017 in Cologne



Q. The Gamescom Invitational seems to be doing well. How was the first day?

The Invitational itself was more about experimenting with the eSports prospects for the future; the casting format with ESL was to go along with this. We tried hard to form the online viewership - the Inven Broadcast Station has been receiving the feeds from each region and multi-streaming them to Afreeca and Naver, and we are also streaming to several global channels for China, Japan, and more.

We will display the correct number of views for the first day once we collect the data later, but we estimate having about 21 million unofficial viewers including those of China, and half a million views on all Twitch channels.

Q. Around 100 players joined to play in this game; how did the observing go?

Since there were players playing all at the same time, we still had complaints regarding the game observation. We are still having problems since we are capturing all of the 80 images and streaming them live, but we expect it to get better eventually.

And as for the 4-day-long tournament format, it’d be best to think of it as experimenting with the eSports aspect of the game as I mentioned before. Based on this, I believe that the Invitational seems to be doing well.


Q. Did you find any place for improvements as the Invitational was held?

We can’t say for sure right now, but we had much feedback from the community on EVERMORE’s victory. Most of the feedback was about the score system and the ruleset; an example would be increasing the score for the kills.

It’d be best for us to solve the observing problems first then put feedback on the ruleset together and discuss it.

Q. Have you ever considered a special eSports mode played with a smaller number than the original Battle Royale combat?

The original principle for BATTLEGROUNDS is the Battle Royale in which only one person gets to survive in the end, so we don’t have any plans to make 1:1 mode like the ones in eSports. However, we may consider reducing the number of participants as long as it does not alter the game’s original principle.


Q. To celebrate the Gamescom Invitational, you added costume items for players to spend money on the game.

This part was also experimental in a way just like the Invitationals. We aimed to create a system in which players who don’t spend money on games will be able to gain items, and players who do will also get their money’s worth; in other words, we want everyone to be happy in the game, and we had to go through some tests to do that.

Now players who don’t like to spend money on games can gain Steam money from BATTLEGROUNDS. The crates they acquire with Battle Points (BP) used to be sold for 3.5 $ each at the early phase, and the money they gained this way could be used to purchase other games on Steam. Likewise, our test is aiming for the items to form an economy.

Q. The backstory for the ‘Frypan’, an in-game item, was revealed recently. How did you feel when you first discovered it going live with the bulletproof effect due to a programmer’s mistake?

I was very surprised, and there were many discussions on whether it was consistent with the game’s design aspects or not, and there was the problem with the procedures inside, and so on. In the end, I chose to get advice from many people, including Brendan Greene, the creative director, while also consulting online community reactions. But it got so popular, to the point where it got fanart. BATTLEGROUNDS aims to be a ‘game that is fun to play’ so we decided not to change it after considering all the factors.

On the other hand, there were some features we took out because of the reactions we received from the online communities. We added a motion for picking up loot to add reality to the game and keep to the coherence aspect, but players were complaining that it was an inconvenient feature. So we decided to rollback based on what the communities wanted.


▲ Players could test BATTLEGROUND Xbox One version at the Gamescom 2017


Q. You revealed the XBOX One version at this year’s Gamescom. Could you tell us the difference from the PC version?

We are currently working on the control system and optimization for the XBOX version. Other than that, there won’t be any difference from the PC version.

Q. Could you please tell us why you chose Microsoft XBOX out of all console platforms?

Microsoft was actively contacting us, but the fact that there was an ‘Xbox Game Preview’ worked as the biggest reason for us. It is similar to Steam’s Early Access program, on which we will be launching the game first then have the official version serviced.

Also, according to the contract that we announced recently, BATTLEGROUNDS will be the sole title on a limited time offer for XBOX, as well as a second party title due to the publishing business at the same time. We believe that it was a great decision for us to gain help from MS since we did not have much experience in console releases. Again, we were able to have the contract signed because each of us had their needs fulfilled.

Q. Did you have any plans on making cross-platform play between the console and PC versions possible?

Actually, that’s what MS strongly wanted, but we won’t be able to work on that at the moment since we have several problems that still need to be fixed.


▲ The new desert-themed map in BATTLEGROUNDS


Q. The new map was revealed on the 23rd. Could you tell us how far the development went?

We are making two types of the new map, one of them is being developed at our Wisconsin studio, and the other one in South Korea. The map we revealed yesterday was the one by the Wisconsin studio, which we expect to be finished quicker.

We plan to add the new map to the official version, although we might add it to the PTR first since the testing done by ourselves is not enough and we need more.

Q. BATTLEGROUNDS fans are looking forward to that climbing motion. When will they be able to see it?

We hope to add it to the official version along with the new map, but the climbing motion will take a longer time to test than the new map.

Just as we disclosed via Devcom, we will need some time to tune it since there could be empty spaces where it does not apply, since the climbing motion won’t be added by just marking. Also, we believe that we need even more tests since we expect many changes will be made to the game strategies once this feature is added.


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