With so many of us stuck at home, video game fatigue is becoming a problem, especially with social games like battle royale titles. Games like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Apex Legends still see millions of players every day, but has battle royale fatigue finally arrived?
Why Are Battle Royales So Popular?
One reason the battle royale genre is so popular is the social element. Apex Legends hosts more than 70 million players, many of whom are competing with friends. With the current daily life restrictions, an adrenaline-fuelled gaming session with the friends you aren’t allowed to see anymore can help take your mind off the world. It’s also a great way to stay in touch, spend time together, and bond. Battle royale games have been keeping friendships going for longer than coronavirus has been around.
Team spirit is a big draw to battle royale games due to the intensity of the matches. You’re fighting for survival and relying on your teammates to achieve this goal. If you get knocked down, your buddies can heal or revive you, giving you another chance at success.
Battle royale games like Fortnite also have endless customisation capabilities and attract people with the game’s self-expression aspect. We all like collecting cosmetics and equipping our avatars with the latest shiny stuff we’ve won, and battle royale games have a similar appeal to MMORPGs in this way.
With special events and limited edition cosmetics to earn through challenges, the addictive collecting aspect of video games is very much present in battle royale games. Collecting is another reason many gamers continue to play the same games.
Another reason battle royale games are popular is their highly competitive nature. Competing for career success or money drives many of Fortnite’s players, but the competitive appeal of a battle royale isn’t limited to the tournaments on offer. Many players report respect from peers as one reason they enjoy battle royale games.
Is The Craze Over Yet?
With games like Call of Duty: Warzone attracting 75 million players, it’s clear that battle royale games are still as popular as ever. However, gaming sees trends, like many other types of media.
For example, MMORPGs like World of Warcraft used to be the only thing anyone was playing. At its peak in 2016, World of Warcraft saw 5.67 million players and is currently estimating a player count of 4.46 million in 2023. This is quite a significant drop and suggests that MMORPGs are falling out of favour and nowhere near as popular as battle royales.
Further back in video game history, The Sims started out selling 6.3 million copies in 2000, but this dwindled to just over one million when the sequels came out. However, once The Sims made the move to Playstation, sales shot up again. Nevertheless, The Sims is not nearly as popular as it was in its heyday, and neither is World of Warcraft.
Battle royale juggernauts like Apex Legends still command the attention of millions of players worldwide, but general interest in battle royale as a genre is waning. Newer versions of the format, such as Hyper Scape or The Darwin Project, have only attracted 7.5 million and 1.8 million players, respectively.
Battle royale fatigue is increasingly discussed amongst fans of the genre—and games as a service, complete with microtransactions, are becoming less popular. Many gamers also report addiction as the reason they stopped playing battle royale titles, and video game addiction is at an all-time high.
The bestselling games list in January 2021 did not include any battle royale games and was instead full of RPGs and social Switch games, like Animal Crossing. Given the pandemic, you’d expect many more esport titles to appear on January’s bestseller list. The absence of esports is a clear indication of battle royale fatigue, and it seems that the new trend focuses on task-based games like Animal Crossing or family fun like Mario Kart.
However, the top three battle royale games on the market (Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Warzone) can—and do—still attract players in droves. Perhaps this is primarily based on maintaining communities, the addictive quality of battle royale games, or simple habit, but the bigger battle royale games are still holding their own.
It certainly seems that battle royale fatigue has finally begun to arrive, although if you’re a battle royale fan, don’t despair. Fortnite and a few other titles are still busy places to hang out with your friends. For the rest of us, though, it’s off to pastures new. Maybe I’ll catch you over on Animal Crossing?