Niklas Weber, Content Creator at Bayes Esports, analyses the challenges associated with broadcasting Battle Royale titles, explaining how companies might be able to ‘control the chaos’ by using prediction models.
When we are thinking of the most popular game titles in esports, we think of MOBAs such as League of Legends and Dota 2, or tactical shooters such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valorant.
However, one genre that has been picking up more and more steam in esports are Battle Royales, in which individual players or small teams duke it out on a very large map to try and be the last gamer(s) standing – “Hunger Games”-style.
While such games have been immensely popular among players for years, esports competitions in this genre have only recently started to pop up on a grander scale.
One key factor that has made it difficult for esports to establish itself in Battle Royale games is the chaotic nature of the genre. Rounds played in Battle Royale games can see more than one hundred players competing against each other at the same time. Players start off unarmed, however an arsenal of different weapons is strewn across the map. As the game continues, players are shepherded into an ever closing circle, ensuring that no player can hide forever.
For players, this means that there is action everywhere, all the time and this can make broadcasting such games quite tricky indeed. With players engaging in fights all across the map, it’s nigh on impossible for a broadcast to show everything – and it’s easy for fans (especially newer ones) to lose track of what is going on.
But as esports competitions in Battle Royales have developed, so have their broadcasts.
Frontrunners in this regard are the broadcasts of competitions held in PUBG:
BATTLEGROUNDS. In 2018, developer KRAFTON hosted the first pro tournaments ever in the realm of Battle Royales. Five years later and it is clear there is major potential in Battle Royales as an esports and in PUBG Esports in particular, hence why KRAFTON and we at Bayes Esports, the world’s leading provider of live esports data, decided to team up and realise said potential.
Let’s take a look at some of the major components for the success of PUBG Esports so far and what still can be done to make its competitions and broadcasts even more exciting.
Controlling the Chaos
While casual players traditionally play PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS by themselves against up to 99 other players to try and be the sole survivor, esports competitions held in the game generally see sixteen teams consisting of four players go against one another.
For one, this team format reduces the overall amount of chaos in the game, since teams tend to stick together until the end, meaning that there are now only sixteen instead of one hundred sources of potential action moving about the map,
The overall objective for teams remains to have at least one member be the last surviving player in the game, but to ensure they don’t just go into hiding to try and outlast everyone else, teams are awarded points for every player they eliminate from the game.
This makes action more predictable and allows broadcasters to catch up to any team that is about to head into opposition.
As of right now, making these predictions relies on the observers themselves to be able to notice which teams are about to get into a firefight. By partnering with Bayes, there now exists the possibility of using prediction models that use live in-game data to predict how likely it is for any given team to get into an encounter with another team in the near future based on the proximity of the players and the direction and speed they are moving in. Such tools can minimise how much action a broadcast might involuntarily miss due to being unable to catch up.
Even so, there still might be merit to not jump from action to action, as that can become quite confusing even for the most experienced fans.
Putting the “Eye” in Teams
Broadcasts in PUBG Esports have shown the willingness to miss out on some of the action in favour of following any given team for an extended period of time, This allows fans to see the game from that teams perspective, effectively taking the inherent complexity of trying to understand the game in its entirety out of the broadcast. Fans can instead focus on the long-term strategy a team pursued and retrace the steps that were taken by the players that led them to the situation they are now in.
While this approach does mean that sometimes knockdowns and kills are not shown live, it does not mean they cannot be shown later. Highlight clips of important moments are already fed back into the broadcast either during more calm moments while the match is still going on after the match concluded during post-game analysis.
This process in of itself is not revolutionary, but there still is room here for possible innovations.
Since the data, voice chat, and video feed of every single player already exist, team-specific video packages could be created post game. Allowing fans to post-game access to individual video feeds would allow them to relive highlights or even the entire game through the perspective of their favourite team – with important tactics and strategy calls being cut out or muted, of course.
Whether these packages are used to create engaging content by the official PUBG Esports channels or given to the teams themselves to enable them to create highlight compilations on their channels, exploring this avenue would strengthen the bond between teams and fans.
Additionally, it is possible to automate the creation of highlight clips by using AI, reducing the time between the highlight happening in game to it being shown on stream. This technology can be also used to automatically create posts on social media, allowing fans to rewatch the clip again and again essentially as soon as it happened.
However, creating a successful esports title is about more than high production value and engaging content.
Home field advantage
It’s also about creating a culture around your game and your competitions. As CH Kim, CEO of KRAFTON, put it himself: “We will ramp up our efforts to take PUBG Esports and turn it into an iconic and cultural brand. We want fans to feel that desire to watch games live in person and be envious of those that do. We don’t just want our fans to enjoy playing the games, but to immerse themselves in PUBG Esports and have fun watching the games as well.”
To this end, KRAFTON is planning to open a dedicated PUBG Esports arena in South Korea in the first half of 2024. Such an arena that the PUBG Esports community can call their home not only brings an overall level of stability to coverage, with technology and equipment being ready to go when it’s needed, but also opens up ample opportunities to level up the fan experience even further.
Besides needing big screens to broadcast the games to the venue, additional screens can be used to show the fans in attendance additional statistics and leaderboards that would otherwise take too much space away from the actual game feed fans watch on stream.
Such statistics can include the damage dealt by players, the aforementioned encounter predictions, or detailed leaderboards that update over the course of the entire event.
3 become 4
The upcoming years promise to be exciting for the entire esports industry, but particularly for fans of PUBG Esports. KRAFTON is making a serious push to try and establish PUBG Esports as a long-term player in the esports landscape.
With broadcasts, coverage and infrastructure only set to continuously improve, there is a real chance PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS is breaking into the upper echelons of esports and join the ranks of League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to turn the “Big Three of Esports” into a “Big Four” – and for a Battle Royales to turn into esports royalty.