The State of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and an Overview of its “Fix PUBG” Campaign

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the game that arguably sparked the Battle Royale movement, leading to popular titles such as Realm Royale, Fortnite Battle Royale, and Islands of Nyne has been live for nearly 18 months. Since then, the evolution of the game has been minimal and the PUBG community is beginning to bite the hand that feeds.

In an effort to combat this, PlayerUnknown’s Battleground’s has just launched their “Fix PUBG” campaign. However, to understand what the “Fix PUBG” campaign is, it’s important to know where PUBG started, and the direction it’s been heading since then.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or better known as PUBG, was released through Steam on March 23, 2018 and sold over 2 million copies in the first month. As with most new games, there were problems and bugs to fix, and the community was convinced that these issues would be resolved hastily, especially with PUBG banking over $60,000,000 in sales in one month.

Fast forward nearly 18 months, the community has grown to nearly 400 million players, and PUBG has sold over 50 million copies across 3 platforms: PC, IOS and Xbox. However, these extraordinary numbers, are not indicative of the sentiment given by the community. “Fix PUBG”, “This game is not esports ready”, and “I stopped playing this game months ago” are all phrases anyone in the PUBG community has either heard or they themselves have said.

At last, it seemed the PUBG team had finally heard the cries for help, and on August 7th launched the “Fix PUBG” campaign.

The “Fix PUBG” campaign, is a roadmap outlined by PUBG to let the community know what bugs and fixes they plan on addressing, and when they will be addressed. At the time this article is posted, it covers PUBG’s development plans through October of 2018. The roadmap is broken down into 5 categories of issues that PUBG is currently facing. These include “Client Performance”, “Server Performance”, “Anti-Cheat”, “Matchmaking”, and “Quality of Life fixes”.

Client performance, as well as server performance, are the areas of PUBG that result in the most outcry from the community. The biggest complaint the community seems to have is how poorly PUBG runs, and how unoptimized it is. In fact, if you browse the community forums, most of the complaints are related to fps hitching, issues with rendering, or downrate choppy gameplay.

As far as optimizing client performance, the main focus of the “Fix PUBG” campaign seems to be on hitching issues, level streaming, effect and character optimization. Effect and character optimization are relatively similar. They have to do with how much load the client takes during certain effects.

Fixes in this area would result in fixes to FPS drops during smoke grenades, FPS drops during character animations such as movement or gun related animations and things of that sort. As PUBG optimizes these animations and effects, the load from these effects will be lessened, resulting in a more consistent framerate, entailing smoother overall gameplay.

Level streaming optimization relates to FPS drops and stuttering that occurs when moving around the map. If the plans outlined in the “Fix PUBG” campaign are truly the key to optimizing the way structures and textures load in as they appear, running around the map will be a much smoother experience.

 

A map of average fps while playing PUBG and the frequency of hitching occurences

Source: FIX PUBG

 

As far as hitching goes, hitching is a sudden FPS drop that occurs for seemingly no reason. PUBG claims, that on minimal system requirements, a user will average about 60fps, which is quite good compared to when PUBG started. However, this 60fps comes with sudden FPS drops, sometimes occurring every 10 seconds.

The “Fix PUBG” campaign claims the developers are now focussing on these FPS drops, rather than overall framerate, which they’ve been battling with since the inception of the game.

“Fix your servers” is a phrase that the PUBG community seems to throw around a lot as well, so it’s no surprise they decided to include server optimization in the “Fix PUBG” campaign. The two biggest issues with the PUBG servers, are tick rate and desync. When you experience poor tick rate, the server is essentially being overloaded. This will result in lag when interacting with items, players rubberbanding, and enemy movement becoming difficult to predict.

The roadmap claims that the poor tick rate is stemming from a slow replication server, and they will soon launch a test-fix to discover where they can optimize the replication server to improve tick rate.

Desync also tends to lead to a lot of outcry from the community, typically from players running PUBG on higher performance systems, where higher FPS allows things like desync to become more noticeable. Desync occurs when two clients are experiencing different environments, due to slow server communication. For example: two players are fighting, and one ducks for cover behind a wall. If the attackers client hasn’t updated, he might still see the opponent, despite them having taken cover on their own client. If the attacker shoots in this moment of “desync” and lands a hit. It will register as such, even though the enemy had already taken cover.

This is what leads to those, “I was behind the wall, how did he hit me?!” moments that seems to occur so frequently in PUBG. Desync is usually due to tick rate, so once the tick rate is improved, we should see less instances of desync during gameplay.

 

The ability to sell crates and items earned in game incentivizes players to use hacks while playing PUBG

 

The most frustrating aspect of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, might be the horrific amount of hackers. PUBG has arguably one of the worst hacking/cheating problems in any game. This is mainly due to the fact that the game incentivizes playing well, with in-game currency. This currency can then be used to buy loot boxes, which get sold on the steam market for a decent chunk of change.

Some PUBG hackers actually make a living doing this, at the expense of the honest players experience. In December of last year, BattlEye banned 1.5 million hackers, which at the time was about 7.5% of the playerbase, and many players claim the hacking hasn’t slowed down.

The “Fix PUBG” campaign claims it will beef up it’s anti-cheat system by better monitoring memory usage, checking for programs that get around it’s current anti-cheat system and doing a better job of actually banning the hackers, making it harder for them to come back.

Finally, the last two categories, matchmaking and Quality of Life fixes are centered around the same thing: giving players a good experience, while everything else is running as it should. The “Fix PUBG” campaign also takes a stab at creating a better matchmaking system to make lobbies a little bit more fair, which will hopefully provide a better user experience.

To do this, the roadmap mentions implementing an MMR (Match Making Rating) system, so that more evenly matched players will be placed together. Currently, players are just thrown into a lobby based on when they queue, with little to no outside influence. The list of quality of life fixes is rather large.

The most important fixed planned deal with things like limb penetration, muting specific teammates, FPS capping and a few map bugs. The list is rather lengthy, and the rest of the fixes planned can be found at https://fix.pubg.com.

When PUBG announced the “Fix PUBG” campaign, the community seemed to be fairly divided. Many players argued that these fixes came too late, that PUBG won’t deliver, or that the the “Fix PUBG” campaign is just a PR stunt to keep PUBG going a little longer.

However, the overwhelming majority of the community applauded PUBG, thanking them for finally listening to the playerbase. Some players rejoiced that they’d soon be able to play a game they love without having to put up with glaring issues. While others welcomed it with open arms, claiming they were excited to hear these changes, and that they’d be happy to give PUBG another try after leaving it so long ago.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has finally heard the cries of the community and they know if they want to maintain their position as one of the top Battle Royale games and not lose their community, they need to step it up. The “Fix PUBG” campaign seems like a step in the right direction. They have the money, they have the plan, and now the only question left is, will they deliver?