'I don't feel ownership over battle royale,' says Playerunknown's Battlegrounds creator

'I don't feel ownership over battle royale,' says Playerunknown's Battlegrounds creator

The last time we spoke to Brendan Greene, the developer was excited because Playerunknown's Battlegrounds had become a smash hit. Then, in June, it had sold four million copies, and had already cemented itself as a massive success.

Now it has sold over 20m copies - that's a different level of success, and one that hasn't come without its issues.

"It's a challenge because we built our servers to handle half a million concurrent users and now we're at 2.6m, so we've had to play a bit of catch up with the amount of players that we've had," Greene says.

"It's really incentivised us; we're really on the right path here. The test servers last week went down a treat. We're going to be doing more of these tests to build it up to 1.0."

One of the fascinating things when it comes to Playerunknown's Battlegrounds' success is not the fact it's successful, but the rate at which its sales have grown. The project sold its first four million copies in three months, its second four million in two; it went on to sell another two million in two weeks, another three million in three weeks before selling seven million units since the end of September.

"I have no idea [why this is happening]," Greene laughs.

"We're seeing global growth across all regions. We're No.1 in Japan and that's mostly a console market. We're still trying to figure it out; we've really captured lightning in a bottle. We have some smart people on it."

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds launched in Early Access in March, with Greene being positive about his team's experience of using this service to release games because of fan feedback.

"It's great. We have a really strong community, all from when I was doing ARMA II and ARMA III battle royale mods," he says.

"They really want the battle royale game possible. They have really given us feedback and there's various tiers of players that give us great feedback. We have almost a council of elders; a group of players that have been with us since the start when we were in early alpha stage. It's been amazing. It means we can make a really great shooter."

One of the hot topics at the moment when it comes online games at the moment is toxicity in the community. Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has spoken about how hard it is dealing with these negative elements of the fanbase, with former Riot staff echoing the Blizzard developer's concerns.

But Greene sees this as part of being on the internet.

"I take it with a grain of salt; there are a lot of angry people on the internet and they're angry just to be angry," he says.

"You have to deal with it. I try and listen to as much of it as I can, but 'fix your fucking game' is not feedback. Go to our forums, give us actual feedback. It's part and parcel of dealing with people online and I tend to ignore most of it."

Since Playerunknown's Battlegrounds launch, there have been a number of other players getting into the burgeoning battle royale genre. Games like Fortnite, Warface and even Grand Theft Auto are testing the water. Greene says it's good to see this space grow, but there needs to be more innovation.

"It's great. It's growing the genre," he says.

"I hope that whoever makes battle royale games puts their own spin on it. If everyone is copying everyone else it doesn't do anything. If you create unique spins on, it helps the genre grow."

He continues: "This is a new sub-genre. It's going to take a few years to really mature into something. I have every confidence that'll happen."

Despite Playerunknown's Battlegrounds more or less putting the battle royale game type on the map, Greene says he doesn't feel any ownership of the genre. This comes after the title's developer Bluehole released a statement calling out Epic Games for its battle royale mode in Fortnite; this turned out to be a conflict of interests dispute, given that Bluehole uses Epic's Unreal Engine 4 for PUBG.

But Greene does see some battle royale mechanics as his. 

"I feel some ownership over some gameplay mechanics that were unique to the mods I made; they didn't come from the movies," he says.

"Jumping out of a plane, the blue zone... that's not from a movie. These are concepts I came up with. I don't really feel ownership, I just hope that anyone wanting to do it puts a unique spin on it."

The title is also up for a Game Award; there was some debate about whether Playerunknown's Battlegrounds should be nominated as it isn't fully finished yet. For Greene, however, making the shortlist is good enough.

"I'm honoured to be nominated. Games like Horizon, Persona 5 and Zelda are amazing," he says.

"Honestly, I'm honoured to be nominated. Whether we win is another question I will accept it humbly because I really didn't expect four years after making mods to be accepting awards for a game. It's a little strange for me. I'm just glad to be nominated."

So. Greene has made the biggest game in the world right now - what next?

"Oh god, I don't know. Let's get this one finished first," he says.

"I want to make a survival game, I've said this before, that's a dream of mine. But that's not until I get this done."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.