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Are Fortnite and PUBG Games of Luck?
() 05:34 PM CEST - Jun,12 2018

Are Fortnite and PUBG Games of Luck? How RNG and Loot Have Influenced Battle Royale Games

Battle royale games like Fortnite, where a player is dropped into an arena map and fight their way to winning the game by being the last remaining survivor, are all the rage right now. A petition that started as a joke and called for Fortnite to be banned actually gathered roughly 730 signatures from frustrated people that claim that their loved ones neglect them in order to play the game – a testament to the popularity of the Fortnite trend. Yet as elements like loot boxes are added to battle royale games, players are beginning to feel like skill sometimes gives way to luck.

RNGs an Integral Part of the Battle Royale Experience

Although several games have adopted the battle royale concept, like Dying Light Bad Blood, there are two that remain most popular: famous Fortnite, launched by Epic Games, has become a cultural phenomenon, while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which sees as many as 100 players crammed on a remote island in a battle for their lives, is dominating the Asian market. Fortnite is played by 16.3% of dedicated PC gamers across the globe, while 14.6% prefer PUBG – but the number diverge significantly in Asia, where 52% of Chinese PC gamers and 32% in South Korea and 31% in Hong Kong are hardcore PUBG fans and only between 1% and 5% opt for Fortnite in those countries. By contrast, Europe is set on the Epic Games masterpiece, with 29% of PC gamers in France choosing Fortnite over 8% who play PUBG, while 27% of PC players in Denmark and Belgium and 26% in Sweden also opt for Fortnite.

Infographic: Battle Royale: PUBG vs. Fortnite | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

The Epic Games flagship battle royale title made almost $300 million in April 2018 and in May 2018 the company announced that it would contribute $100 million towards prize pools in the first Fortnite eSports competition to follow later during the year and continue into 2019. This has irked some commentators who have observed that battle royale games might not be a good match for eSports competitions, as they incorporate some elements of chance like Random Number Generators – and relying on luck does not fare very well in eSports competitions, where it is all about skill and strategy. In Fortnite players are dropped onto the map according to an RNG, which significantly affects the resources to which they have access during the game. The same goes for PUBG, where players have access to varying amounts and types of loot according to the location on which they are dropped at the start of the game – again thanks to an RNG. This means that less skilled players might be able to win seasoned gamers thanks to being dropped on a lucky spot, near lots of loot.

The Loot Box Problem

Perhaps as a way to mitigate this, developer Epic Games have released updates of the Fortnite map to provide more places for the players to drop into. But even if that takes care of the unequally distributed loot to begin with, there is always the issue of the loot boxes: Known as supply drops in Fortnite, these loot crates are dropped randomly onto the “safe” storm zone and contain better resources than simple chests, with a Legendary item always included in a supply drop. This has had players complain that the loot boxes is an unbalanced element of the gameplay that relies too much on luck and turns players into gamblers. That would mean that a game of skill, as eSports are supposed to be, could potentially be turned into one of superstition. Although many eSports pros and even sportspeople have good luck routines that help make them more confident going into a competition, superstition in the form of believing in and actively trying to use lucky numbers, of which 7 and 12 are the most popular according to Betway Casino, or even choosing a route on the map based on whether it has brought you "good luck" in the past rather than based on its pros and cons is a slippery slope - especially so when a game is played for cash prizes. On top of this bit of news, it seems that Twitch TV has promised exclusive loot on Fortnite for players who subscribe to its Twitch Prime Plan.

Loot boxes as well as skins offered in PUBG, Fortnite and other games such as Overwatch and FPS Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have become the object of internal trading among players. The Dutch Gambling Society has in fact issued a statement declaring that it considers loot boxes gambling and invites developers to reconsider their rules, while it is estimated that the loot crate purchasing and gambling in skins "market" will reach $50 billion by 2022. Loot boxes caused a lot of headaches in the gaming world in 2017 and Forbes reports that several developers are backstepping and distancing themselves from the trend: Battlefront 2 has removed the option to sell loot crates, while Shadow of War has announced that it will remove loot boxes altogether. Fortnite has launched the Battle Pass and has tweaked its microtransaction system to steer clear of loot boxes. Yet the elements remain in the game, which has led to a lot of people questioning whether Fortnite is not actually a game based on luck – and Reddit users spearhead that discussion.

The latest update on Fortnite proves that loot is not going anywhere soon, as a wide range of guns available through floor loot were introduced. After all, loot and chance are essential parts of the excitement of battle royale games – which might seem like a small price to pay for the cost of not being able to host eSports competitions at the caliber of other video games. This is a discussion that will surely continue to take place within the gaming community for some time – and perhaps through the heated argument, we can all agree on some common ground rules.

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