On June 5, 2018, game developer Hi-Rez Studios released Realm Royale on videogame publishing network Steam as an "early access" alpha. It drew obvious comparisons to gaming and cultural sensation Fortnite, which recently was ported over to the Nintendo Switch and dominated viewership on Twitch.tv.
In today’s gaming world, viewership on popular streaming website Twitch.tv — where people watch other people play games (it's a massive market if you haven't heard of it) — is a strong indicator of its popularity. Realm Royale, the new kid on the block, made waves in its first weeks as its mix of a class-based system with traditional battle royale elements made it attractive to Fortnite fans looking for a twist on the formula. However, it has since cooled off dramatically in viewership as it enters its second month on the market.
Realm Royale’s reach remains solid for a game in early access, but how does it compare to its competitors? Does it have a chance in a battle royale game market that has videogame publishers scrambling for market share? Here's a look at the genre, the market players, and who has a chance to beat out Fortnite.
The Story and Metrics of Battle Royale
In 2000, the Japanese film Battle Royale, based on the novel of the same name by Koushun Takmi, told the story of middle-school students who must fight to the death on a remote island. Over a decade later, Brendan Greene, AKA PlayerUnknown, decided to modify a game called DayZ into a zombie survival game, thus creating the first big “battle royale” game.
He would eventually update that mod for ARMA 3 before joining Sony Online Entertainment (now called Daybreak Studios), for their own standalone battle royale game H1Z1: King of the Kill, which released in early access in January 2015.
Now known as H1Z1 in its full release, it has since floundered in the fight for battle royale supremacy. Here is its viewership through the first half of July:
PlayerUnknown then became the creative developer at South Korean developer Bluehole to make PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, also known as PUBG. After a few early access periods in the beginning of 2017, the game was released on December 20, 2017.
From then on, the game has hosted several esports tournaments and popular streamers, such as Guy “DrDisrespect” Beahm, that helped it blossom on Twitch to this day.
As PUBG was holding its early access periods, Epic Games, developer of a major videogame platform called Unreal Engine, was putting the finishing touches on Fortnite. Similar to Realm Royale, it offered a welcome change to the battle royale formula, allowing players to build forts for protection out of materials gathered from the in-game environment. It was released on September 26, 2017 and began to show promise two months after its release.
Then, Fortnite hit its stride. As it entered its third content season, it saw a massive surge in viewership. This was in part due to Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a former professional Halo player who previously streamed H1Z1 and PUBG. Once he started streaming Fortnite in March 2018, the game reached overnight success.
At that point, Fortnite was dominating Twitch streams, as we showed when it was nearly quadrupling the next closest streamed game. As of this past July, it is still crushing viewership numbers on the platform.
Who Currently Claims Victory Royale?
If we throw all four of these games into the same chart, it gets bloody for H1Z1 and Realm Royale.
The biggest outlier for Realm Royale was its first Keemstar $100,000 Realm Royale tournament, which was held on July 19 and drew in popular streamers like Ninja. Other than that Thursday night throwdown, Realm Royale has slumped between H1Z1, a game that seems to be past its prime, and PUBG, which currently looks to be Fortnite’s number-one contender.
Can Realm Royale become the “Fortnite killer” just as Fortnite became the "PUBG killer"? Only time will tell.
If Hi-Rez continues to invest in attracting streamers through tournaments or other means, then it can at least give it a shot.