People Just Can't Stop Playing PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

By Rich Stanton on at

Ever since its early access release, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has been rocketing into the stratosphere. This game will just not stop selling. And according to Steam's official stats, it yesterday set a new record for the most concurrent players on the service with an incredible 2,016,498 individuals searching for that chicken dinner.

Earlier in the same day, the PUBG twitter celebrated breaking the two million players mark.

The fact that the developer's tweet was almost instantly overtaken by another 8,000 players shows that this thing continues to gather pace. So popular is it proving, with audiences across the globe, that the latest server reset had to be delayed because the developers are (understandably) worried about stability.

We were planning on starting a new season on October 11th at 11AM KST / 4AM CEST / October 10th at 7PM PDT as mentioned in a previous announcement. However, our concurrent users have been increasing rapidly, and we are genuinely concerned that we may not be able to provide you with a comfortable and seamless gaming experience by starting the new season immediately. In order to deliver a more reliable service, we would like to make some back end improvements.

This has raised all sorts of other interesting problems. A huge part of the global growth is in China, and a recent issue has been Chinese players using VPNs to play on western servers — and causing all sorts of issues with lag. This has led to that most delightful of modern phenomena, whereby the game has and continues to be review-bombed by players unhappy with the server situation.

Such teething problems aside, these numbers make you the toast of the town. Sure enough PlayerUnknown himself was schmoozing around with Xbox folks yesterday, with Aaron Greenberg using the latest player counts to emphasise the game will hit Xbox One by Christmas.

It looks like Mr PlayerUnknown himself, Brendan Greene, is having a jolly old time, and good luck to him. Shortly after the Greenberg tweet, Xbox head Phil Spencer couldn't wait to follow it up. Gotta love the on-brand Cuphead t-shirt, looking good.

It's worth reminding ourselves, amidst a maelstrom of numbers, that the reason for all of this is that PUBG is an enormously fun video game. It's shonky in places, sure, but that will never leave it, and to be frank that seems to be part of the charm. We live in an age of hyper-engineered and polished experiences, designed to provide enjoyment with as little friction as possible. PUBG is all about the core gameplay, concentrating everything good about the survival genre into a nutshell — and the rough edges remain rough edges because, in the minds of its makers and players, they really don't matter. There's something authentic about it, the feeling of duct tape and the smell of grease, in a world of perfect packages.

That's how you end up with amazing scenes like players hunting down speed hackers, the incredible death of Weed_Man, and the brilliant video of a Korean player infiltrating a huge team and, at the right moment, slaughtering them. As well as the desperate bragging of those that, finally, win a round.

And it does feels wonderful to win at PUBG. Pure battle royale, pure victory, and that irresistibly silly encapsulation of what we all want from life: a chicken dinner. Who knows where this train ends.