Tag: gamepreviewprogram

‘PUBG’ already has over 3 million players on Xbox One

A preview version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds launched on Xbox One on December 12th and at the end of 2017, it already had over three million players. The game broke records left and right last year, so this may not be too big of a surprise. But it's notable since PUBG had quite a few issues when it launched on the console last month.

When announcing the milestone, Xbox's General Manager of Games Marketing Aaron Greenberg pointed out that four updates had already been released since the preview's launch and he said that updates would continue to roll out regularly.

At the end of December, PUBG beat its previous concurrent player record on Steam, logging a whopping 3,106,358 players at one time. Around 25 million players were playing it on PC overall at the time. In the first two days of being available on Xbox One, PUBG pulled over a million players.

Source: Xbox

As ‘PUBG’ finally exits beta, its creators look to the future

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) has been this year's biggest surprise. Since launching on Steam Early Access in late March, the game, which started life as a DayZ mod, has picked up 25 million players on PC, not to mention a marketing and publishing deal from Microsoft for an Xbox One version. This week, version 1.0 arrives on Steam, gaining a second map and new instant replay feature in the process.

But for PUBG Corp. CEO Chang-han Kim, even though the game is losing its beta status, work is far from done. "When we first started this project and thought of the Early Access model, we never took it as a model where you start developing a game, you complete it, you ship it out and then be done with it," Kim said through a translator. "As long as we have fans out there playing our game, it will never be complete."

Prior to PUBG Kim worked on multiplayer games in South Korea where each project spent around five years in development. He said the hardest part was getting meaningful feedback from players during limited alpha or beta tests, and then being able to implement it in the game before it was too late to make sweeping changes. For PUBG he wanted to try a different approach: get a working prototype out as fast as possible and from there, keep tacking on features, all while keeping an ear to the ground. "We took an indie development approach," he commented.

"As long as we have fans out there playing our game, it will never be complete."

Kim said this alone has given the team a chance to focus on making the core gameplay the best it can be. The benefits are obvious. While the main menu is sluggish and pre-game lobby chugs along, once your brief cargo plane ride is over and you're on the ground, almost everything smooths out. That's when the addictive hunt for weapons and people to shoot them with begins. Not to mention, the quest for the ever-illusive "chicken dinner" for being the last of 100 players standing.

When I spoke with PUBG Corp.'s Brandon "PlayerUnknown" Greene in October, he said that there wasn't a release date for a PlayStation 4 version of the game because the team was focused on getting the Xbox port out the door. That and his team was concentrating on getting the Xbox version up to par with PC as fast as possible versus adding another console into the mix.

The result of that diligence could be cross-platform play between PC and Xbox One players.

"It's important that we get the two build versions to be identical to make it happen," Kim said. "Cross-network play between the PC and Xbox is something the entire team really wants," he added, but there are a lot of issues that we have to resolve before that can happen. For starters, PUBG Corp. needs to figure out how to fairly match PC players using a keyboard and a mouse against people using a gamepad on Xbox One.

Microsoft has linked Forza Horizon and Gears of War 4 players, so it seems likely that once the two versions reach parity PUBG will eventually get the same treatment. But don't expect that any time soon. "We've only just launched on the Xbox Game Preview Program, and right now, the bigger focus has to be trying to further stabilize and optimize the [game]."

In the months PUBG was in Early Access, being developed in public as it were, it picked up a high-profile competitor, Fortnite: Battle Royale from Epic Games. Epic's Unreal Engine is the toolset that powers both PUBG and Fortnite, and the studio admitted it was inspired by Kim and Greene's game in marketing materials for its free battle royale add-on mode. "At Epic, we're huge fans of the battle royale genre, and games like PUBG and H1Z1," worldwide creative director Donald Mustard said in a trailer (below) hyping his own spin on the genre. "We thought Fortnite was the perfect world to build one in."

PUBG Corp responded in several ways. In a press release, Kim said that PUBG Corp was never asked permission to use his team's game as part of their promo tactic. Kim also said he was worried that "Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known." The way he closed the press release is especially telling: "The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action."

This week, Kim was far more reserved, saying that the experience wouldn't affect him using Early Access for future projects. "Early Access and the competition are two different things that are not necessarily linked with one another," he said. "We feel like PUBG is a title that really embarked on a new battle royale" and that because of PUBG Corp's success, it was only natural to expect other games in the genre, including the Fortnite mode.

When I pressed Kim for follow-ups based on his comments in September's press release, a Microsoft spokesperson interrupted me to say that our interview was only going to cover the PC version's 1.0 milestone.

PUBG's story, in many ways, mirrors Minecraft. Despite its 1.0 status, the game is still very much a work in progress. But the underlying ideas are enticing enough that one can overlook the kludgy graphics and occasional bug. Version 1.0 is a major milestone, but in many ways it's anticlimactic — this is just another iterative update, fixing glitches and rebalancing combat. It was inevitable that copycat titles would crop up along the way (it happened with Minecraft too).

For PUBG, the challenge remains the same, regardless: keeping the community happy, and adding more features without losing what made the game special in the first place.

‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ arrives on Xbox One December 12th

For Xbox One owners, the wait to play PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) will end December 12th. The battle royale game consistently racks up 2 million daily players on Steam, and in just over a month it will transition to the Xbox Game Preview program as a work in progress, with studio Bluehole leaning on players to help guide the game's development. "We can use it like Steam Early Access where we can develop on console with the community, and that's going to be really essential -- in our view -- for getting a really great version on console," creator Brendan Greene told Engadget.

The version that comes out in December won't be a direct 1:1 port, though. At least not yet. The most noticeable difference is that PUBG on Xbox One won't feature the PC version's upcoming "Desert" map (below), which has a big emphasis on verticality in an urban environment. Greene said there wasn't a timeframe for when Xbox fans will be able to explore that map. Other than that, he said that the two games are "essentially" the same.

That means the Xbox version will have vaulting and climbing at launch in December, which was announced back at E3 in June but still is in testing on PC. The game's 1.0 version will release sometime later in December, according to a post on Xbox Wire.

What separates the pair is the development cycle. PUBG has been playable on PC since March, and as such it has a nine month (at least) lead time in terms of features. "We want the same game on both platforms, but the Xbox version is obviously lagging a little bit behind when it comes to the PC version," Greene said. "There's not a different feature set, it's at just different points in development."

When asked if Bluehole had a timeframe in mind for the PlayStation 4 version, Greene's answer wasn't hopeful. "No, not at all," he admitted. He said that right now the team is focused just on getting the Xbox One port out the door.

And, since the PS4 doesn't offer its own game preview program it's anyone's guess when that will happen, but games need to be pretty much feature complete for Sony to list them on the PlayStation Network Store. For example, Ark: Survival Evolved didn't come out for PS4 until late this August, when the Xbox Game Preview version was released in December 2015.

Early Access isn't all sunshine and rainbows, though. Sure, PC games like Dead Cells, Nuclear Throne and PUBG have benefitted greatly from fans being able to play works in progress. Their respective developers have been able to take good games and make them great, tapping the players for input about what does and doesn't work. But there's another side to this coin.

The aforementioned Ark currently sits with a 4/10 user score on Metacritic for its PC version, with the PS4 and Xbox One editions ranking 3.9/10 and 4.1, respectively. But with how PUBG has taken over Steam and Twitch, it doesn't seem like that'll be the case once the game arrives on Xbox One. The game had already sold 10 million copies on PC as of September.

Come December PUBG could very well be the poster child that the Game Preview program desperately needs: a high-profile indie that's garnered almost universally positive acclaim during an extended — and public — test period. It won't have much competition with other exclusives on the system this fall, that's for sure.