PUBG is ready to kick off its official release. The title, which has been walking on a fairly easy and prosperous path since the early access, now faces cold-blooded reality.
PUBG has exceeded 2 million concurrent players, the highest number in the history of Steam by far, and has taken the throne of the Korean internet cafe share after 5 years of League of Legends. There is news about PUBG’s rising prosperity as well. First off, the title has been nominated for 5 sectors of the Gold Joystick Awards, the historical video game award of the UK. This award will be broadcasted on a number of streaming websites such as YouTube on November 17th. Moreover, the title has also marked its name as one of the nominees of the Korea Game Awards.
The game was also mentioned during the current Korean parliamentary inspection. When the inspection of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) was conducted on October 13th, Dong Sub Lee from the People’s Party asked the MCST to “create a foundation in our country so that the 2nd and 3rd success of PUBG can be made”. During the inspection on the Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee (ECSTC) on 19th, Hye Won Son from the Democratic Party of Korea took PUBG as a model and said that “companies are more than capable of creating good games like PUBG, but their continuous creation of gacha games is simply not understandable.”
Although the title is expected to keep walking on its glorious path, there are still a couple of issues that people have pointed out. PUBG eSports broadcasting is one of them. It is known to be relatively less comfortable for viewers to watch compared to other titles such as Starcraft, League of Legends, or Overwatch.
Furthermore, connection issues have been constant since its launch. One of the aftereffects of this issue is the influx of Chinese players’ negative reviews that started on September 29th. Chinese players have been using the VPN to detour the IP for a smoother connection, and they had VPN ads while playing the game. They then left countless negative reviews for allowing controversial ads to show up in the full-priced game, even when the connection issue has not been fully resolved yet. Bluehole eventually made an announcement, explaining and apologizing for the connection issue in the Asia server on the official website, on October 3rd.
Now’s the time to look back at PUBG. The title faces service in South Korea with Kakao Games, and is about to release a massive patch with a new map. The company suffers from hacks and connection issues internally, and numerous similar games have been released externally. Along with all of this, the title is preparing to become an eSport.
Stable eSports broadcasting system
to overcome the limitation of the Battle Royale genre
The PUBG Invitational was held at the last Gamescom 2017. The tournament took place with the best PUBG players and 80 famous streamers, in the format of solo, duo (TPS and FPS), and squad. Evermore, Dingception, YoonRoot, and juankorea participated from South Korea, and Evermore claimed victory in the solo match on Day 1.
Though the invitational was a place for PUBG to prove its popularity and take on the challenge of becoming an eSport, there were features that needed to be improved. One of them was broadcasting screens. It was difficult for observers to observe fights that occurred almost simultaneously, and viewers also showed their disappointment in how they captured the moment on screen. They missed out on a number of major fights as well. However, many people understood the hardships after the broadcasting process was revealed; the whole setup captures more than 80 scenes and edits them in real-time. Chang Han Kim, the producer at Bluehole, said that they are also aware of the issue and will focus more on resolving it.
This is probably a natural problem that PUBG needs to bear because of its Battle Royale nature. An observer might have struggled to choose between 2 simultaneous scenes to display. For example, a viewer could either watch Evermore and Dingception encounter each other, or watch a nameless player killing a number of others with headshot. Whereas the former focuses on one of the match’s highlights, the latter can be seen as Overwatch’s POTG.
One way to deal with this could be to give viewers the choice to watch whatever scene they want. It provides a particular player’s POV to a viewer who wants to watch him/her, while maintaining the current broadcasting system. There is a list of pro sports with an internet broadcasting system currently adapting this simultaneous method. The main screen is the largest display, while others are located to the side in a smaller size. Viewers can switch the monitors if they think something fun is about to happen in the smaller monitor.
The method used to select a winner for the Battle Royale competition is also another controversial issue. In fact, Mr. Kim said that he saw a lot of feedback from the moment where Evermore claimed the victory on Day 1 of the last Invitational. One opinion was that more points should be given to those with more kills. He said that the issue about the scoring rules will be examined after collecting more feedback.
PUBG needs to take a look at F1 or the PGA Tour. Both competitions do not decide a winner in one game, but rather determine victors after a number of games, cumulating the results of each game. In order to do so, a calculation of kills and survival points that fans can understand is crucial.
Moreover, there is a physical problem with the arena. During the Road to G-Star PUBG Qualifiers that was held online on October 22nd, the squad team named Dangilchigi was exposed for sniping and all of their match histories were found invalid. The teams had to have 2 extra rounds for this, and many viewers rebuked Twitch Korea for their poor management.
PUBG contains around 100 players in one game. The size is on another level compared to other multiplayer games such as League of Legends or Overwatch. This is why the current PUBG event competitions in Korea are held in internet cafes. An official competition cannot be held online. Bluehole needs to keep in mind that an arena that can accommodate numerous players at once is essential for a stable PUBG eSports scene in Korea.
It is expected that the success of PUBG’s eSports will be decided at the PUBG Invitational at the G-Star next month. When that time comes, they need to at least show some improvement with the issues that were pointed out at the last Gamescom Invitational.
Urgent problem - hacks, and server
‘Early Access’ cannot be an excuse anymore
Just like any other game, PUBG has had problems with hacking. There are various hacks already revealed so far - the location hack that shows an enemy’s whereabouts, the aim hack that adjusts your aiming, the speed hack that allows a player to move faster than others, and so on. The sellers of these hacks even post their promotion page with a video as evidence on streaming websites.
A hack interferes with fair gameplay. A player who died from a hack rather than an enemy’s skilled play is disappointed and eventually leaves the game. Many games like Starcraft, Overwatch, and League of Legends struggled because of similar hacks.
This becomes more serious in the case of PUBG, where 100 players in one game have to fight for survival. If one player uses a hack, the other 99 players are at a disadvantage. The disappointment grows larger when you become suspicious about whether your death was to due to a hack or resulted from a skill play.
Bluehole has developed an anti-hack program for PUBG and has been banning cheaters ever since. Brendan Greene said on Twitter that they have banned over 150,000 cheaters, with more than 8,000 banned in the last 24 hours, indicating that they are doing their best to track down cheaters.
Bluehole needs to keep up their efforts. Thankfully, the company has asserted their determination, saying that “although it will be an endless fight, we will never give in.” Despite the fact that hacks are always being developed and distributed, Bluehole does not plan to let up.
PUBG’s server issues still continue as well. Since the launch of the Early Access, players have experienced various issues such as connection errors, login issues, and server crashes; many were unable to play when they wanted to. Players were usually considerate, admitting that although the game is full-priced, it’s bound to have some issue since it’s in Early Access. However, now that the game has such a large player base and has seen such success, it is not acceptable to continue using the Early Access excuse.
According to an announcement on PUBG’s official website posted on October 3rd, the server was designed to have 1 million players at maximum, but the turnout was more than anticipated, and the issue occurred because the exponential player growth outpaced server development. Bluehole is like a mother who buys their son big clothes, expecting him to grow into them, but then the son turns out to be a giant.
Optimization will not be easy due to the nature of the game. It is difficult to properly optimize for a 100-player match on an open-world map using the Unreal 4 engine. Bluehole announced on October 3rd that they will provide better performance with a new Cloud server, platform improvement, and optimization. PUBG is now on the level where it needs to show solid results, not just mere promises.
Direction of upcoming updates
champions for LoL, maps for Starcraft, then what about PUBG?
One of the main reasons why League of Legends has been loved for a long time is the continued addition of new champions on a regular basis. Riot Games always introduces a distinct champion, providing more content to players, and a meta that did not exist before. Starcraft in the past could not actively engage in adding new races or balance patches as their eSports was not done by Blizzard, but rather by broadcasting studios. The studios added new maps instead to vitalize every competition.
How about PUBG? What’s expected is a new map. Bluehole has been revealing additional images of their new map Desert every month since July. The addition of Desert following Erangel probably aims to maintain the vigorous atmosphere of the PUBG eSports by adapting the Starcraft method.
Speaking of adding new maps, Other general settings such as metropolitan New York, tropical Amazon rain forest, mountains with extreme slopes, the snowy South Pole, and/or the Sahara Desert can be expected, along with a deserted battlefield with tanks and Humvees.
However, due to its genre, it is difficult to do patches similar to League of Legends. Adding new weapons can possibly raise the realism issue among some players. How does PUBG then need to update their content?
The Battle Royale mode is a game that’s already been completed. Furthermore, PUBG is like a giant game of Chinese Chess with 100 players playing with 100 stones. There’s no way that you can add a grey stone just because you want to add some freshness into the game. Just like how every single game of chess is never the same, every single match of PUBG is never the same. Therefore, an appropriate way to update the game going forward would be to enhance the quality and maintain the general atmosphere, rather than adding new features.
Powerful custom games and modding
for players who experienced all the features during Early Access
It’s been 8 months since players started enjoying PUBG. The time draws near for the official launch of the title. However, players have almost experienced most of the features of the title during this Early Access, and they are now expecting something more than when the official version is released.
The good thing is that Bluehole considered custom games very important since its development phase and prepared it together. The current custom mode is only available for streamers partnered with Bluehole, but the user pool is expected to be wider in the near future. Also, Bluehole has planned to allow players to create their own game mode using a powerful modding system.
The Use Map of the Starcraft and Warcraft series was a good example. Due to its free modding system, players created their own creative content, and enjoyed it for a very long time. Players are hyped for what kind of content they will face once the title is updated with the modding system.
In that case, it is important to check how powerful PUBG’s custom mode and modding will be. Looking at Starcraft as an example, players should be able to add bridges between islands, buildings, and/or any type of object, during the process of making a map. If more detailed options are provided in addition to this, players will likely create content that even Mr. Kim, Mr. Greene, and any other developers could not think of.