In the past few months, anyone browsing Twitch should have noticed an interesting trend growing among viewers. Despite MOBAs' long reign as the kings of Twitch, a new style of game had begun to rise in everyday viewership. Battle Royale had finally landed at the top.
As the number of players began to rise, it was only natural that the genre would take the next step in development and search for its place in Esports.
While there have been many incarnations of Battle Royale that have risen over the years, there are a few that have found their place in the current Esports scene.
One of the oldest is H1Z1, a game played on a smaller map with armor, weapons, and limited vehicles. Although once a break-through in Battle Royale, H1Z1 has slowly tapered off with the release of recent titles.
The arrival of Player Unknown Battlegrounds was a massive step forward for the genre, quickly becoming one of the most played games around the globe. The developers have been vocal about their commitment to the Esports side of the game, and multiple large tournaments have already been held.
Still, the most popular game at the moment is one of the most recent additions to the genre. Epic Games' Fornite Battle Royale brought unique graphics and added a building feature to the genre that instantly connected with players. Already one of (if not) the top games on twitch, Fortnite looks to be the next big thing in Battle Royale.
One of the issues with the genre as an Esport is the random nature of zones and loot that is spread across the maps. While it is true skill and coordination are still the primary factors in success, having any player or team gain a large advantage due to a random event is not a feature inherent in many FPS titles and can cause issues in a serious competitive environment.
Pacing for competitive matches could also be problematic. With games revolving around a systematic shrinking of the playing area, much of the action is significantly delayed. With viewers forced to sit through the majority of the match watching teams posture for position on the map, excitement can be very limited at times.
Another feature unique to many of the titles as an Esport is the sheer number of teams competing on a single map. While most genres contain two teams facing off, games such as Battlegrounds pit up to twenty teams against each other.
This can create issues for both the event organizers and the viewers, as they scramble to cover all of the action that is taking place at one time. While the casters may focus on action at one area of the map, other important plays are often missed. These issues will continue to work to be refined (As was seen at IEM Katowice), but there is still significant work to be done to bring the genre to a place where it is easy to enjoy and understand as a spectator.
Although it is clear that there are issues with the genre as an Esport, the staggering popularity of these games make, it an almost certainty that the Esports scene surrounding them will continue to develop. Players have flocked to the games that mix survival with shooters, playing solo or as a team. Whether they can reach the level of the current titans of Esports remains to be seen, but Battle Royale is sure to be a cornerstone in Esports for years to come.