PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) could become a great esport, but not today


PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) has become incredibly popular on PC, even managing to take the most-played slot from CS:GO, but the team behind it wants to take it to the big stage in esports. Thing is... it's not quite ready for the big audience. It's a good game, but it requires further optimization and development and isn't yet where it needs to be for the world of esports. That's not to say it'll never get there, but there's still work to do.

At the moment, PUBG remains to be the optimal game for streamers, allowing them to create stories with each match, taking advantage of random elements such as drops, other players and play area restrictions. Having such features out of the hands of players makes it possible to have completely different experiences with each game, but this isn't optimized for professional play.

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The esports push

PUBG Esport

The issue with PUBG is the developer and published — PUBG Corp. and Bluehole, respectively — are both pushing the game into esport territory, regardless as to whether it's ready or not. There are tournaments being run already with organizations forming rosters for future events. As it stands, even with the more recent broadcasts, PUBG isn't a great esport to view. There's too much action to keep track of. Consider the size of the map, hundred players and only a single camera to keep track of everything.

PUBG is being pushed into esports, whether it's ready or not.

And that's only after the action kicks off. Most of the early game — as anyone who has played the game knows — is a lot of repositioning and looting, with only the occasional shot fired. In normal matches streamed on Twitch, players aren't afraid of dropping into busy areas with 20 other survivors to battle it out with the first item them pick up, even if it's a pan. Contrast that with an esport tournament which forces players to err on the side of caution with a lot of money on the line.

This will come with experience and work to find the best way to track all the action, but it can be a little too hectic for viewers. Those in charge of the spectator mode need to figure out where the best angle is at that exact moment and whether they should be in first-person. As a viewer, it's easy to miss a grenade throw or a few rounds that take down a player. It's even worse for casters who have to rely on what's being shown on-screen.

Future of PUBG

What PUBG does have is simple gameplay mechanics. It's not difficult to understand what's going on, just like CS:GO. Many people have seen The Hunger Games and Battle Royale movies and so they understand the overall goal of players. There are no skills, spells or abilities to understand. And there's the gradual build in excitement. Sure, the initial drop and loot section of each game can feel like it goes on for too long, but it's worth the wait for the final few circles (map restriction) when the action really starts to ramp up.

Will PUBG ever make it as big as CS:GO, League of Legends and Dota 2 in esports? That's an impossible question to answer, simply because it's up to the viewers whether or not a game is successful as an esport. If people flock to watch PUBG tournaments, then it'll do well. If not, then PUBG Corp. and Bluehole will need to focus on perfecting the multiplayer experience and working on adding more features to extend longevity as a player's game.

What are your thoughts on PUBG? Would you even like to watch professional matches?

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Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.