Tech

The Battle Royale Game from China that's Contending with Fortnite and PUBG

By | May 25, 2018 09:35 AM EDT
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The biggest trend in global gaming right now is Battle Royale. The genre first properly began to make waves in the second half of 2017, at which time games like Fortnite: Battle Royale, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and H1Z1's King of the Hill became immensely popular.

However, the originator of this new genre, H1Z1, has since fallen by the wayside, with reports of its player base sinking by 91 percent due to the popularity of Fortnite and PUBG. Now, other publishers are releasing their games with Battle Royale modes, attempting to claw their way into the market.

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There is another game in the mix; one which doesn't get the headlines and attention that it deserves given its gigantic player base. This game is NetEase's Knives Out. Released in November 2017, it quickly became one of the most popular games of the genre, only it made its name on the mobile scene.

East Asia quick to get on the online crazes


Source: Facebook/Knives Out

In no way should it be surprising that a Chinese publisher has been able to create a game within a budding genre quickly, and for that game to become immensely popular. The fact that NetEase opted to seek the ever-growing mobile audience instead of contending for console players with Fortnite and PUBG is inspired because many couldn't fathom a massively multiplayer game being mobile-friendly.

This isn't at all unlike how the region of the world reacted to the budding stages of cryptocurrency. Even before the recent crypto-boom, countries like Japan and China were more than willing to embrace cryptocurrency. It resulted in crypto-payments being a viable option, and even crypto-based websites sprouting and becoming popular. Bitcasino enables players to bet with and potentially win cryptocurrency on popular casino games, showing how the new craze has been adopted very quickly. We can now see a similar trend with cryptocurrency and this Battle Royale genre of gaming. Both originate from Japan - in regards to Bitcoin, and the Battle Royale story - both have become immensely popular, and both have changed the landscape of their respective industries. On top of this East Asia has embraced them both fully, creating methods to enjoy them fully.

Taking the mobile market was key


While PUBG and Fortnite focussed their efforts on the console and PC audience, Knives Out went in for the ever-growing mobile audience and has certainly been rewarded for its daring move. Newzoo shows that 51% of the global games market is made up of mobile gaming revenue in 2018, with that percentage expected to hit 59% by 2021. The mobile market is already twice the size of the console market, and bigger than console and PC combines. With these numbers, you would assume that the easy choice was to go into the open mobile market. But, at the time of Knives Out's launch, few massively multiplayer games existed on mobile, and even fewer had a sustained player base or a fully functional game. Knives Out changed that train of thought. Just like Fortnite and PUBG, Knives Out allows for 100 players to be in one game at any time, with many game rooms running at once.

Hailed as being a PUGB clone, NetEase's Knives Out blazed past 100 million downloads in just over a month after launch. Then, following an investigation into this booming genre earlier this year, it was found that despite PUBG and Fortnite having mobile versions, Knives Out dominates the mobile market with over 50 million monthly active users. By way of comparison, at the end of March, PUGB Mobile had been downloaded 22.3 million times and boasted around 4.5 million daily active users, while Fortnite Mobile collected 6.5 million downloads and maintained over 1 million daily active users.

Taking the massive Chinese audience, and then some

While much of the audience for NetEase's Battle Royale games - the other being Rules of Survival - are in China, the mobile sensations are also pinching some of the players from Fortnite and PUBG elsewhere. 30% of the games' revenues are from markets outside of China. Of these other countries, Japan is one of the biggest for Knives Out, with 96% of the game's iOS revenue from overseas coming from Japanese players.

The Battle Royale genre is absolutely dominating gaming headlines right now. Without a doubt, 2018 will continue to be the year of Battle Royale. While Fortnite and PUBG may dominate the western market and consoles, NetEase's creations have staked a huge claim on the vast mobile market, especially in China and Japan.

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