For the first time in over a year, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has less than one million players on the PC. According to Steam analytics site Steamdb, PUBG broke the one million player mark on 8 September 2017. While the Battle Royale landscape has certainly shifted over these past 12 months, PUBG is still considered as the definitive PC title for Battle Royale purists. The game entered early access in March, 2017 before PlayerUnknown officially released it in December.
While there are many factors that have led to this decline, the most immediate is the launch of the Black Ops 4 Beta. The Beta launched at the start of the week on PS4, with other consoles to follow. However, unlike previous Call of Duty Beta’s, Black Ops 4 is featuring an all new Battle Royale mode called Blackout. With a huge franchise entering the Battle Royal market, it is to be expected that PUBG’s playerbase took a hit. However, this only explains the numbers for this week. The larger trend is that PUBG has been on the decline since January of this year.
An important factor is the growth and explosion of Fortnite into the mainstream. Since January, Fortnite’s playerbase has nearly tripled, going from 45 million players worldwide to 125 million in just 6 months. As Fortnite has grown in the mainstream, with celebrities like Drake joining in on the fun, players were drawn away from PUBG. It is important to note that Fortnite is free and more widely available than PUBG, running much better on mobile and consoles than PUBG. The many bugs and issues that plague the Xbox and mobile versions of PUBG drove players towards Fortnite, rather than towards the PC version.
The many issues and bugs in PUBG are another factor. Performance issues and hackers are two of the most prevalent problems, with developers Bluehole announcing a major bug fixing campaign last month. As they dedicate time and resources to fixing bugs, Call of Duty’s release is nearing and Fortnite strives to add new content with continuous updates. While the developers proclaimed “it’s time to fix PUBG,” it appears to be a case of too little too late for longterm fans.