Critical Play: Is this game balanced?

Name of game, creator, platform

I chose to analyze PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) for this critical play. The game is designed by Brendan Green and developed by PUBG Corporation and KRAFTON. I will be focusing on the mobile version for the purpose of this critical play. I have been a fan of the game since high school and it has been one of my favorite pass-time games to this day.

Target audience (as best you can discover from research or the games messaging)

I believe the target audience is people who enjoy the battle and shooting games. Since the game especially is a competition it would appeal to competitive players who seek challenge. Officially the game is suitable for people 13 and up and the majority of the players are young adults.  

Formal elements of the game:

Players: The game involves 100 players from across the world making the format player vs player. Players have an in-game inventory with a fixed limit of two guns, one pistol, and one melee weapon. They also carry a pack back that limits the amount of inventory they can pick up. There are three levels of backpacks with different capacities. 

Objectives: There are different modes in the game each with a slight variation of teams (solo, duo, squad). However, the common objective is to be the last person/team standing by killing off all other players.

Outcomes: The game is a zero-sum game since there is only one winning person/team and they can win only if all other players lose. However, the score is evaluated based on each player’s performance during the game. 

Rules: There are no defined rules that the player cannot do. Usually, the system will simply not allow it. However, the player should actively try to win the game and not purposely get killed.  

Procedures: The players take off on a plane and can choose any spot on the map to land. After landing they need to obtain resources that can help them fight off the others and be the last one standing. 

Resources: The player can pick up items that can aid them in the gameplay such as protective gear, and health packs. 

What kind of fun? How do the elements of the game lead it to be fun/compelling?

The fun is mainly from competition and challenge. There are also ranking and scores that motivate people to keep on playing to level up. Even though the main goal is to be the last person/team standing the game is also cooperative in a way that any other team killing off other players is increasing your chance to win. Another element of fun in PUBG is improving skills through practice such as aiming, shooting, and strategizing. The graphic also adds to the immersiveness that adds to the enjoyment of the game.

Balance in the game:

There are no defined winning strategies that would work every round in PUBG because there are so many varying factors in each round. You can jump off at different locations but others can do the same so the opponent you would face at any point during the game is different. In addition, the resources you can obtain in each game is also different such as weapon, gear, and health packs. All these random factors prevent any strategies from outperforming the others.  

Driving deeper into the resources, different weapons and gear have different specifications making some better than others. However, different players would have their own preference of weapon depending on their play style and it is very likely to find a powerful weapon in any game round as long as the player takes the effort to search for it.

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