Three weeks ago, when Realm Royale was about to be released to the public, a small team of developers in HiRez offices in Alpharetta, GA, did not expect much. It was made entirely on the base of their other game — Paladins — on a tight schedule and there was no marketing budget for it either. All they had going for themselves was a game and some hope, that someone will like it enough to invite their friends over.
And they did.
There is a point where it is too soon to call a game a success. The first week of the release, for example, would fit that bill. But Realm Royale had a great first week. When the game peaked at 11,000 players on Steam in the first few days, the developers were going out of their minds — it was an overwhelming success. Little did they know, that before the first week would be over, their battle royale game would be getting more than 100,000 concurrent players.
But the popularity of the game doesn’t always translate to the popularity of its esports scene and it’s even truer when it comes to battle royale games. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS has been breaking all kinds of records for over a year now, and although PUBG esports scene had grown tremendously in the past nine months, it’s still nowhere near where it should be compared to its player base.
The most obvious explanation as to why such a scenario occurred is the challenge of making the game, which can feature anywhere from 64 to 80 players at the same time, into an enjoyable experience for the viewers. There’s no denying that spectating PUBG matches became a much more fluid affair recently, thanks to relentless efforts of the competitive community, tournament organizers, and the developers. But the big question is, when will the rest of PUBG’s massive player base realize that watching the game on a professional level can be as enjoyable as playing the game itself?
The issue, however, might not be as simple as pouring cash into the scene. When Epic Games, developers of the chart-topping battle royale game Fortnite, announced they’ll be supporting their esports scene with $100 million in the upcoming year, many of the industry veterans had a flashback. The truth is if your game is not ready for esports, no amount of money will trick people into thinking that it is. Though many have tried.
It all comes down to how awesome of a spectator experience can you deliver and Realm Royale here, however, might find another bump on their road to make their game into a full-fledged esport. At its core, the game combines the fundamentals of a battle royale game together with the elements of the game on which it is built — Paladins, which is to say there are also abilities involved. As luck would have it, ability-based shooters like HiRez’s Paladins or Blizzard’s Overwatch have proved to be especially hard to spectate.
A large map, tens of players on the server, and several fights happening at the same time can be a daunting task for the production crew as it is. Now add to that a chaos of character abilities — players flying everywhere, shooting fireballs at each other, building walls, dashing, blinking, and whatever else they might do — all in a matter of a few seconds. That is what HiRez are looking at if they were to decide to bring esports to Realm Royale. Not only would they have to overcome the shortcomings of battle royale as a spectator sport, they would also have to improve the way team fights are displayed in a high-speed character-based shooter.
It’s an intimidating task to take on by yourself and yet it is one that I would love to see them try.
Alpharetta based HiRez Studios have built their success on esports. Their original success story, Smite, has deep roots in esports going back to year one. The 2015 Smite World Championship, with $2,612,259 on the line, became the tournament with the fourth largest prize pool in the world at the time. That’s a massive achievement for a game company that had absolutely no success in the esports scene before.
But all of that changed now. Smite adapted a circuit based league model, similar to that of Riot’s League of Legends. When HiRez released Paladins back in 2016, it did not take long for them to announce Paladins Premier League in partnership with WESA. Even when they published a not-so-successful Hand of the Gods, it was immediately followed by the announcement of the esports tournament for it.
The point is, HiRez know their esports. They have built not one, but two successful esports games and are now running several leagues to support the healthy competitive environment for those titles. The point is, if they wanted, they could bring Realm Royale to esports.
But the question is, can they bring esports to Realm Royale?
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