A barely three-month-old game that isn’t even through being developed has already amassed over $100 million revenue from over 4 million players, each of whom bought the game for $30.
Weirder still: The game is bizarrely named, “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” — only, the developers behind it usually spell it in all caps.
The game has been a big hit on Steam, but that’s community of game enthusiasts. So you might think that, in order to reach a broader audience, the game’s makers — a South Korean studio named Bluehole — might change its name to something a bit less esoteric name. But you would be wrong.
“People are talking about it, that’s the main thing,” the game’s creative director, Brendan Greene, told me in an interview earlier this month at the annual E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles, California.
He added, “Yeah it’s a silly name, but f— it.”
Greene is the infamous “PlayerUnknown” in the game’s name; it’s his online handle. And “Battlegrounds” is his game.
The foundation for “Battlegrounds” was a mod Greene created for two other games: “ArmA 3” and “H1z1.” The mod, which he called “Battle Royale,” introduced a new mode for playing those games where the goal was to be the last player standing. The mod was named after the Japanese film that inspired it.
If you haven’t heard of “Battle Royale,” it doesn’t matter — the premise is familiar to anyone who’s seen “The Hunger Games.” In “Battle Royale,” a group of Japanese high school students are forced onto a deserted island with a small selection of survival gear and weaponry. The goal: Be the last one standing.
Greene took that same premise to “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.” Bluehole couldn’t name it “Battle Royale,” of course — that’s already a movie, and Bluehole doesn’t have the rights to a video game adaptation of the film (nor is the game an attempt at one).
The game’s name is kind of a mouthful. Players, tired of saying/typing such a long and bizarre name, have taken to calling it “PUBG” (pronounced: “pub-gee”) or simply “Battlegrounds.”
So, why does Bluehole stick with such an absurd name? Here’s Greene’s explanation:
“It’s only called ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ because ‘Battlegrounds’ you can’t get a copyright on. You just can’t. So calling it ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ [makes sense] because it was ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale’ before that. And it’s all caps because it looks better as all caps. No other reason. I’m not shouting it.”