PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Becomes Steam’s Most-Played Game Ever

Published: Sep 21, 2017 - Last Updated: Sep 26, 2022

The increasingly popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has now set a record for the most simultaneous players on any Steam game.

Surpassing a record set previously by Dota 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ players totaled 1,342,857 in number. That’s better than Dota 2’s previous best of 1,295,114 and nearly 500,000 more than the most people ever to have played CS:GO.

A growing revelation

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds debuted on Steam in March, and the game immediately caught on. It sold more than 10 million copies in its first six months.

In spite of the game still officially being in an “early access” state, word spread like wildfire of the latest take on the Battle Royale concept. Brendan Greene, who led development of the mod and also consulted with Sony during its development of H1Z1, crafted PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from scratch after joining South Korean developer Bluehole.

The game’s dynamic concept of players battling it out in steadily shrinking confines was a hit. This was largely due to the game’s prevalence on Twitch, where numerous top streamers picked up the title and contributed to its routine status as the most-viewed game on the streaming platform.

Esports in the future?

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds made its esports debut at Germany’s GamesCom in August, with a $350,000 prize pool contested across a variety of events. These events offered players opportunities to compete individually and on different-sized teams.

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However, Broadcasting PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is not an easy task. There are far more players active at any given time than in any popular esports titles. Action tends to be emergent and dynamic, making it difficult for commentators and presenters to prepare viewers for incoming action. And there remains much discussion about which format is best for the spectator’s experience.

In spite of these issues, there’s no doubt that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will continue to grow as a competitive platform. The sheer number of players and the title’s rapid growth make for promising potential in viewership and betting.

The questions for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as an esport are “how” and “when,” not “if.”

Jared Wynne

Since: July 24, 2017

Jared Wynne has spent more than a decade working in the esports industry as a writer and consultant. His work on esports has been featured by a variety of publications and he has helped to build multiple media operations in the space.

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