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Playerunknown's Battlegrounds


PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is a multiplayer online battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of Korean publisher Bluehole. The game is based on previous mods that were developed by Brendan «PlayerUnknown» Greene for other games using the 2000 film Battle Royale for inspiration, and expanded into a standalone game under Greene’s creative direction. In the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed themselves. The available safe area of the game’s map decreases in size over time, directing surviving players into tighter areas to force encounters. The last player or team standing wins the round.

The game was first released for Microsoft Windows via Steam’s early access beta program in March 2017. By the end of the year, it had sold over twenty million copies and held a peak concurrent player count of over two million, making it the most played game on the platform. A full release out of early access is planned for December 20, 2017. That same month, the game was released by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox One via its Xbox Game Preview program. The game is also planned to be localized and released by Tencent in China, including two different mobile device versions exclusive to the country.

"PUBG's inspiration was the 2000 film Battle Royal".


Battlegrounds is a player versus player (PvP) action game in which up to one hundred players fight in a battle royale, a type of large-scale last man standing deathmatch where players fight to remain the last alive. Players can choose to enter the match solo, or with a small team of up to four people. In either case, the last person or team left alive wins the match.

Each match starts with players parachuting from a plane onto a map area approximately 8 by 8 kilometres (5.0 mi × 5.0 mi) in size. The plane’s flight path across the map varies with each round, requiring players to quickly determine the best time to eject and parachute to the ground. Players start with no gear beyond customized clothing selections which do not affect gameplay. Once they land, players can search buildings and other sites to find weapons, vehicles, armor, clothing, and other equipment.

These items are procedurally distributed throughout the map at the start of a match, with certain high-risk zones typically having better equipment. Killed players can be looted to acquire their gear as well. Players can opt to play either from the first-person or third-person perspective, each having their own advantages and disadvantages in combat and situational awareness; though server-specific settings can be used to force all players into one perspective to eliminate some advantages.

Every few minutes, the playable area of the map begins to shrink down towards a random location, with any player caught outside the safe area taking damage incrementally, and eventually being eliminated if the safe zone is not entered in time; in game, the players see the boundary as a shimmering blue wall that contracts over time.[4] This results in a more confined map, in turn increasing the chances of encounters

.[1] During the course of the match, random regions of the map are highlighted in red and bombed, posing a threat to players that remain in that area.[5] In both cases, players are warned a few minutes before these events, giving them time to relocate to safety.[6] At random, a plane will fly over various parts of the playable map and drop a loot package, containing items which are typically unobtainable during normal gameplay. These packages emit highly visible red smoke, drawing interested players near it and creating further confrontations.[1] On average, a full round takes no more than 30 minutes.[6]At the completion of each round, players gain in-game currency based on how long they survived, how many other players they had killed, and how much damage they dealt to other players. The currency is used to purchase crates which contain cosmetic items for character customization.[7]


Lead designer Brendan Greene, better known by his online handle PlayerUnknown, had previously created the ARMA 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale, an offshoot of popular mod DayZ, and inspired by the 2000 film Battle Royale.[8][9] At the time he created DayZ: Battle Royale around 2013, Irish-born Greene had been living in Brazil for a few years as a photographer, graphic designer, and web designer, and played some video games such as Delta Force: Black Hawk Down and America’s Army.[10][11] The DayZ mod caught his interest, both as a realistic military simulation and its open-ended gameplay, and started playing around with a custom server, learning programming as he went along.[10] Greene found most multiplayer first-person shooters too repetitive, as maps were small and easy to memorize. He wanted to create something with more random aspects so that players would not know what to expect, creating a high degree of replayability; this was done by creating vastly larger maps that could not be easily memorized, and using random item placement across it.[12] Greene was also inspired by an online competition for DayZ called Survivor GameZ, which featured a number of and YouTube streamers fighting until only a few were left; as he was not a streamer himself, Greene wanted to create a similar game mode that anyone could play.[12] His initial efforts on this mod were more inspired by The Hunger Games novels, where players would try to vie for stockpiles of weapons at a central location, but moved away from this partially to give players a better chance at survival by spreading weapons around, and also to avoid copyright issues with the novels.[9] In taking inspiration from the Battle Royale film, Greene had wanted to use safe square areas, but his inexperience in coding led him to use circular safe areas instead, which persisted to Battlegrounds.[9]

When DayZ became its own standalone title, interest in his ARMA 2 version of the Battle Royale mod trailed off, and Greene transitioned development of the mod to ARMA 3.[10] Sony Online Entertainment (now the Daybreak Game Company) had become interested in Greene’s work, and brought him on as a consultant to develop on H1Z1, licensing the Battle Royale idea from him.[10] In February 2016, Sony Online split H1Z1 into two separate games, the survival mode H1Z1: Just Survive, and the battle royale-like H1Z1: King of the Kill, around the same time that Greene’s consultation period was over.[13]

Separately, the Seoul-based studio Ginno Games, led by Chang-han Kim and who developed massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) for personal computers, was acquired and renamed Bluehole Ginno Games by Bluehole in January 2015, a major South Korean publisher of MMOs and mobile games.[14][15] Kim recognized that producing a successful game in South Korea generally meant it would be published globally, and wanted to use his team to create a successful title for personal computers that was following the same model that other mobile games published by Bluehole had found. He had already been excited about making a type of battle royale game after he had played DayZ, in part that the format had not caught on in Korea. He also wanted to make this through an early accessmodel and have a very limited development schedule to get the game out as fast as possible, while treating the product as a «game as a service» model to be able to support it for many years.[14] In researching what had been done, he came across Greene’s mods and reached out to him.[14]

Around the same time that Greene had left Sony Online, Kim contacted and offered him the opportunity to work on a new battle royale concept. Within a week, Greene had flown out to Bluehole’s headquarters in Korea to discuss the options, and a few weeks later, became the creative director of Bluehole. He moved to South Korea to oversee development.[12] According to Greene, this was the first time a Korean game studio has brought aboard a foreigner for a creative director role, and while a risk, he states his relationship with Bluehole’s management is strong, allowing Greene’s team to work autonomously with minimal oversight.[6]

Development began in early 2016 and was publicly announced that June, with plans to have the game ready within a year.[16][17] Kim served as executive producer for the game.[12] Bluehole started with a team of about 35 developers supporting Greene’s work, but had expanded to 70 by June 2017.[18] Greene stated that many of these developers were voluntarily putting in longer work hours into the game due to their dedication to the project, and not by any mandate from himself or Bluehole’s management.[12][19] In addition to Bluehole, Greene also credits Bohemia Interactive, the developers of ARMA and DayZ, for support with motion capture animations via their Prague studio.[19][18]

With the rapid growth of interest in the game, Bluehole spun out the entire development for Battlegrounds into Bluehole Ginno Games in September 2017, which was then renamed PUBG Corporation, with Kim as its chief executive officer. PUBG Corporation continued the development of the game and its marketing and growth, opening a new office in the United States with plans for future ones in Europe and Japan.[20]


Battlegrounds represents the standalone version of what Greene believes is the «final version» of the battle royale concept, incorporating the elements he had designed in previous iterations.[6][21] Faster development was possible with the game engine Unreal Engine 4, compared with ARMA and H1Z1, which were built with proprietary game engines. Greene acknowledged that implementing the size of the maps in Battlegrounds has been one of the challenges with working with Unreal, which was not designed with such maps in mind.[6][10] The game was designed as a mix between the realistic simulation of ARMA 3 and the arcade-like action focus and player accessibility of H1Z1.[5][12]

Based on Greene’s experience with the genre, an island with many terrain features was picked as the first map, known as «Erangel».[9] The map design scope was to offer players many possible options for strategic and unique gameplay.[4] Some buildings and structures were designed to depict the style of the brutalist architecture of the Soviet Union during the 1950s. The developer team then playtested architecture features and random item placement systems, looking at both how close-quarters encounters went, and for open terrain areas.[4] The goal was then to optimize the right distribution and placement of weapons and gear across the map, to encourage players to make strategic decisions about how to proceed in the game without overly penalizing players that may not find weapons within the first few minutes of a round.[6] As of May 2017, two additional maps are currently under development: one set on a fictional island in the Adriatic Sea that had part of the Yugoslavian territories which will include snow-covered areas, and a second set in the remains of a desert city in Peru that has been ravaged by war and sandstorms.[22][18] Greene recognized that the Erangel map felt disjointed despite meeting their goals for gameplay, and sought to create more unified ideas with the next maps.[9]

The freefall from an airplane at the start of each match was a new feature for the genre, to encourage strategy between staying with the pack of players or seeking out one’s own route for a better chance at finding good loot.[6] With the added parachute drop, Greene considered that Battlegrounds had three distinct subgames: the air drop during which one must quickly figure out the best time to jump and where to land in relationship to the other players, the loot game of knowing where and how to gather the best possible equipment, and the combat game with other players.[23] Players that win a match are greeted with the phrase «winner winner chicken dinner», an idiom that Greene had used since the first «Battle Royale» for winners and intended to keep for Battlegrounds, and which itself had origins as early as the Great Depression.[24]

Among features that Greene anticipates adding include custom games and modding support.[6][12] Greene considered modding support an essential part of the full release as, just as he had his start with mods, he wants to enable others to create variations on his game so that he can «find the next PlayerUnknown».[25] Greene also desires to incorporate the game with streaming services like that would enable replays or other features amenable to treating Battlegrounds as an eSport.[6][12] Greene had anticipated that Battlegroundswould develop into an eSport and was an ultimate end goal for his development, but wanted to let the nature of how it would play out as an eSport grow naturally with the player community.[11] He also plans on introducing microtransactions to allow players to use real-world funds to purchase loot crates that provide randomly-selected cosmetic items, also known as «skins», which they can then trade with other players; while Greene recognized the issue with skin gambling, he believes that Valve had since put safeguards in place to support a «skin economy» that will provide further revenue for them without concerns over gambling.[7] However, by November 2017, grey market skin gambling sites began to appear, using Battlegrounds cosmetics as virtual currency.[26] Following controversy over the use of loot boxes to offer «pay-to-win» items in other games in November 2017, the PUBG Corporation affirmed that while they will continue to add new cosmetic items rewarded by in-game crate purchases, they «will never add anything that affects the gameplay».[27]

The full micro-transaction system is not expected to be released until the game exits early access, but Bluehole offered an early preview of the system by offering time-limited crates that could be purchased during the first Battlegrounds Invitations tournament during Gamescom in August 2017, with the sales from these contributing to the prize pool. Among loot from these crates include special outfits inspired by the Battle Royale movie.[28] Greene anticipates adding a campaign mode with co-operative player support, though there would be «no serious lore» crafted for the narrative, comparing this to similar modes in Watch Dogs.[29]

The game, while in early access, has already received alternate gameplay modes created by players, determined by unenforceable rules that players agree to abide by, that have been popular with streamers. This was aided by a quiet release of custom server support to a number of influential streamers which subsequently made it into public release.[19] In one case, «Zombie Mode», all but four players pretend to be zombies, who may sometimes distinguish themselves by removing all clothing and are limited only to collecting melee weapons and consumable items, and must rush to attack the other four players, who are able to collect all gear and attempt to outrun and defeat the zombies.[30] Inspired by this mode, Greene announced plans to introduce an official zombie-based gameplay mode based on this into Battlegrounds.[31] Whereas most of the rest of the team continued to develop the core gameplay and maps, Greene is taking on the zombie mode as a near solo project, only using the assistance of the lead animator to help with the zombie animations.[18]Greene sees Battlegrounds as a platform, and would like to see more custom game types and mods developed by players for it.[10] Greene identified that some mods that he also previously worked on from ARMA 3 may become part of the Battlegrounds platform.[10] To prevent cheating, the game uses the «BattlEye» anti-cheating software, which was banning more than 6,000 players a day as of October 2017.[32]


Bluehole used closed alpha and beta periods with about 80,000 players, including popular Twitch streamers, to gauge initial reaction to the gameplay and adjust balance prior to a wider release.[12][33] Just prior to the early access phase on Steam, Bluehole opened a few servers and invited some of the top streamers of the battle royale genre to try it out as to start gaining interest.[34] Early access launched on March 23, 2017 for the Windows version.[35] This early access period was planned to last approximately six months, originally aiming for a September 2017 release.[35][36] In July 2017, Greene announced that they would need to extend the early access period by a few months, continuing to release updates on a regular basis, with plans to still release by the end of 2017, as committing to this original period «could hinder us from delivering a fully featured game and/or lead to disappointment within the community if the launch deadline is not met».[37] Initially, Bluehole had expected that they would just gain enough players through early access to smooth out the gameplay, and only when the game was completed, they would have started more marketing for the title. The sudden interest in the game from early access exceeded their expectations, and put emphasis on the stability of the game and its underlying networking alongside gameplay improvements.[33] Through August 2017, these updates generally included a major weekly patch alongside major monthly updates that provided key performance improvements.[38][5][16] However, from August onward Bluehole backed off the rate of such patches, as the high frequency has led to some quality control issues, and the developers rather make sure each patch content is well-vetted by the community before providing new updates; this did not change their plans for a 2017 release.[39] Bluehold anticipated to leave the early access period by late December 2017.[40]

OneBluehole planned to port the game to consoles, which will be released sometime following the completion of the Windows release, with the company already having a team starting on the Xbox One port. Greene was part of Microsoft’s press conference during Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 to announce that Battlegrounds would be coming to Xbox One as a timed console exclusive sometime by the end of 2017, using the Xbox Game Preview early access approach to test it.

Initially, Greene said that Microsoft was not directly involved in the porting but only providing assistance to make sure the port is good, and that most of the porting responsibilities are being done by Anticto, a Spanish developer. However, at Gamescom that year, Bluehole affirmed that Microsoft Studios would be publishing the Xbox One version of the title, helping to make a planned 2017 release for this version. Greene said that Microsoft’s support has helped in several ways, not only for the Xbox One version but improving the performance and security of the Windows version. Further, by being part of the group of studios under the Microsoft banner, they have been able to talk and incorporate technology from other developers, such as improved water rendering techniques they obtained from Rare that they had developed for Sea of Thieves. Microsoft considered Battlegrounds to be an important project to demonstrate their company’s ability to be more than just a publisher, according to Microsoft’s Nico Bihary who lead the project. Bihary said they have given Battlegrounds a «white glove» treatment, and for the Xbox One port have provided services from their advanced technology group and time and support from The Coalition, another of Microsoft Studio’s subsidiaries.The Xbox One release will initially start as an early access title in the Xbox Game Preview program. Titled «Game Preview Edition», the early access version for the Xbox One was released on December 12, 2017 in both digital and physical formats. To promote the release, Microsoft performed real-life supply crate drops in Australia in the week prior, with the crates containing Xbox hardware, Battlegrounds merchandise, and other goods, using passcodes published alongside the drop locations on social media.The Xbox version will also include Xbox-specific in-game cosmetic items, some which could be purchased directly (rather than through in-game crates) during the Preview Program period.

Other platforms

Kim also stated that a PlayStation 4 version is planned; Bluehole’s head of global business Woonghee Cho stated that because of Microsoft’s assistance and suggestions for supporting Battlegrounds, the title would be a timed console exclusive for the Xbox One. Following news that Microsoft Studios was serving as a publisher for the Xbox One version as a «console launch exclusive» in August 2017, reporters questioned Bluehole about their PlayStation 4 plans, but Bluehole did not confirm either way on current plans for this platform. In an interview shortly after Gamescom, Greene said that their deal with Microsoft did not exclude a PlayStation 4 port, but that their focus at the time was only on the Windows and Xbox One version, given the small size of their team. Bluehole later confirmed they are in discussions with Sony for the PlayStation 4 version. Kim also stated that the team was interested in cross-platform play between the Windows and console versions, but did not anticipate this as a release feature, as they need to determine how to mitigate the advantage keyboard and mouse-using players would have over those using controllers.

In part of the game’s success in early access, Tencent, the largest publisher of video games in China, approached Bluehole that same month with an offer to publish Battlegrounds in China and purchase equity in the company. However, in October 2017, the Chinese Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association issued a statement that discouraged battle royale style games including Battlegrounds, stating that they are too violent and «deviates from the values of socialism and is deemed harmful to young consumers». By the following month however, PUBG had reached an formal agreement with the Chinese government to allow the release of the game in the country, with Tencent as the publishing partner.However, some changes were made to «make sure they accord with socialist core values, Chinese traditional culture and moral rules».

Shortly after the deal, the possibility of a Battlegrounds port for mobile devices was mentioned, although it was not specified if it would be released outside of China. In the following week, Tencent and PUBG Corporation affirmed that they were planning on releasing two mobile games based on the game in China. The first follows the standard Battlegrounds format, and will be developed by Tencent’s Lightspeed & Quantum Studio. The second, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Assault, will include more arcade-style elements, including action taking place on warships, and will be developed by Tencent’s Timi Studios.

In July 2017, Bluehole partnered with social media platform Facebook to provide exclusive streaming content to Facebook’s gaming channels, as part of their pushing to provide more gaming content for its users.

Professional competition

To celebrate the game surpassing two million copies sold, Bluehole announced a 2017 Charity Invitational event, inviting 128 players to compete over their official channel to raise money for the Gamers Outreach Foundation, with Bluehole matching all donations up to US$100,000. The competition ran in early May 2017, and raised at least US$120,000 from viewers along with Bluehole’s US$100,000 match, and served as a prototype for future eSports events for the game.

During the August 2017 Gamescom, Bluehole and ESL organized the first Battlegrounds invitational tournament, with a $350,000 prize pool. Separate events were held for solo players, two-player teams, two-player teams fixed to first-person perspective, and four-player squads. Each event featured three matches, with the player or team scoring the highest across all three named winners.
Greene said that while he had envisioned the Battle Royale format to be a spectator sport since his ARMA II mod, their approach to making Battlegrounds an eSport would be a matter of taking «baby steps». Greene said that they would not actively pursue eSports until after the game was fully released and that all major bugs were eliminated. The Gamescom 2017 event demonstrated the issues surrounding the logistics of running a large Battlegrounds tournament with a large number of players involved, and they had worked alongside ESL to explore how to do this effectively in the future. Further, Green stated there was also the need to establish a format for presenting a Battlegrounds match to make it interesting to spectators, which he thought would take some time to develop given the nature of the emergent gameplay, comparing it to established first-person shooters and multiplayer online battle arena eSport games.A 20-team, 80-player tournament produced by Intel took place in Oakland in November 2017, with a prize pool of US$200,000.

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