Even due to very inconsistent quality on its part, PUBG is selling incredibly well on the Xbox One. The game has a lot of successes and things that it does right, but I think its success can be broken down into just three factors.
1.) The game introduced underused psychological tactics to the mainstream
One of the underlooked aspects of PUBG is the psychological element. The game’s ever decreasing circle size keeps the player on the move at all times. The circle maintains fluid gameplay and prevents the player from settling into a routine. Players like to pick one thing and then get familiar with it, learning the ins and outs of a character or playstyle. PUBG prevents the player from settling down too much, literally and figuratively. With the ever-decreasing circle, the pressure is on to find a secure hiding place. This stress creates high-intensity gameplay from an otherwise ordinary session. Even just walking through an empty field can be filled with suspense as at any moment you can be taken out by sniper fire.
2.) This slow-paced gameplay, while imperfect, is developed a lot
Some have gone to criticize PUBG saying its gameplay is far too slow, and it takes much too long for anything interesting to happen. While I think the game could speed up a little bit, the game has developed at this pace. This allows the brief bouts of combat to feel much more meaningful as opposed to other shooters. Take Fortnite, another fantastic battle royale game but with a faster pace. While still rationing its combat, Fortnite’s encounters are more frequent but have a little less weight to it. The more action you put in a game, the less the fighting means to the player. PUBG is very proficient at rationing its combat to provide maximum suspense in every encounter.
3.) The game teaches you to adapt to its rules
The gameplay causes you to always be on the move, which forces you to adapt. If the circle closes in an unfamiliar area, you better learn where to hide, or you will meet certain doom. This adaptation is key due to the game’s frequent updates. Just recently, the PUBG Corp put out updates to rebalance their 2nd map, which has been very unpopular. These changes could mean new “metagames” that will cause players to reevaluate their new go-to drops.
While not perfect, and definetly not the most stable game around, PUBG has undeniably conquered suspenseful gameplay. Building suspense can be achieved in several ways, and PUBG takes the psychological route. It is always appreciated to see games taking new methods of maintaining player engagement, and quality. It still has a very long way to go but I think PUBG will cement itself with a consistent player-base by forcing variety in very fluid ways. Developers are always looking for ways to have players try new things without being aggressive, and PUBG can be a good tool to show how to prod the player in that direction.