Genre repeat: Battle royale gaming has ties to deathmatch style


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As new games are being released, the trend that is emerging is that ideas once used a coming back. The deathmatch style games are becoming one of the more reoccurring game styles.

It is often expected that the video game industry tends to move forward. However, with recent successes such as Fortnite and Apex Legends, we can see an obvious difference: the industry has begun reusing old ideas.

Jumping back to the past, we can see an obvious trend of the early 2000s. Games based around a deathmatch system were the top of the market. Deathmatch is a gaming system in which people are put into a server and are up against everybody on the server. Whoever lives the longest wins the match.

With such titles as Half-Life 2: Deathmatch and Unreal Tournament 2k4, there was a boost in the idea that these types of multiplayer shooters could top the market. This was backed up by the fact that they had many players at the times that they were released.

Half-Life 2: Deathmatch was one of the games that proved that deathmatch was a good strategy for shooter games. According to, around 15 million copies have been sold overall, and while it only gets around 450 unique players a day, with the estimated player count from 2004-5 was well above 20000 putting it in Steam’s top 10, if not more (Steam is an online marketplace for digital games). 

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In much the same way, Unreal Tournament 2k4 sprung up to go against the giant success that Valve and Id were having with deathmatch games. It was very well received, more so than any other game of its type in the market at the time.

Both games promote an idea of “every man for themselves” with the unique play style that was deathmatch. The average amount of players was usually set around 24, but could easily be changed per server, with some servers hosting close to a hundred people at once for a massive experience.

Unfortunately, this era seemed to die off late into the first decade of the new millennium, with games like Team Fortress 2 taking the spotlight instead.

However, we have started to see the deathmatch idea come back on a much larger scale now. Games such as PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) and Fortnite Battle Royale have many of the same concepts of those original games.

To prove the success of these games SteamCharts, a website dedicated to tracking stats about games on Steam, showed that PUBG peaked in players at 3 and a quarter million, which is the highest ever on Steam. 

So why has the idea of having the players go up against everybody else in the server become popular again? It seems to have something to do with the simplicity of the games, how enjoyable they are, and how easy they are to access.

The games have a form of simplicity, in which you can join a server, shoot some people, possibly die, and then leave. While rounds can be long at times, this simplicity keeps things fresh for the most part.

This leads to how enjoyable the games are, as the mechanics of the game allow for a lot while the simplicity makes sure that you are entertained most of the time while playing.

The most important factor is that the games have been so easy to access. In an era of $60 titles, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch released at only $8. PUBG pulled the same idea by starting out free, and Fortnite Battle Royale has continued that idea by remaining free since launch.

Even one of the main Fortnite developers believes that accessibility was one of the driving factors for his game being so popular.

“I mean, would as many people have been willing to play had it not been free?” Eric Williamson, developer at Epic Games, said in an interview with Red Bull

Overall, the game industry has taken a loop, and it’s all because of the accessibility and simplicity of games and their basic principles. This is why battle royale has become popular as a successor to the early 2000s deathmatch craze.