It’s no secret H1Z1 hasn’t had the easiest of rides. Despite being one of the first games to develop a battle royale mode, H1Z1’s PC version suffered a huge dip in player numbers when competitors such as PUBG and Fortnite emerged. Meanwhile, the H1Z1 community has often complained about the lack of regular updates, and the game’s current review score isn’t looking particularly peachy.
Yet it seems H1Z1’s fortunes on the PlayStation have been radically different to the PC version. A few weeks ago Daybreak announced over 10m people had played the game in its first month of open beta. And according to PlayStation Producer Terrence Yee, the game has continued to be popular with players since its full release earlier this month.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Yee noted the numbers response to the PS4 open beta had been “beyond [their] wildest expectations”. “We didn’t really know what the numbers were going to be,” Yee said, “but that surpassed what any of us could have imagined”.
But this raises a particular question – why has the PS4 version been so much more successful than PC?
When I raised the subject with Yee, he said his team had tried to concentrate on creating an experience tailored to the PS4. He also admitted the lack of PUBG on the PlayStation probably helped H1Z1’s chances. “It’s a whole new audience on the PS4,” Yee added, “so there’s a great opportunity to bring our version of the battle royale experience to that”.
The main focus for the PS4 team seems to have been on balancing the gameplay, and – as if trying to distance itself from the mistakes of the PC version – to make sure the player community feels heard. Yee emphasised the developer had been looking “on the social forums like Reddit” and as a result had made some major changes to the game. “Combating the vehicle meta” was one of the changes requested by players, and according to Yee, Daybreak has implemented a series of changes to tackle the problem. Introducing the EMP grenade, reducing the fuel found in the vehicles, and adding a new RPG weapon – the “preeminent anti-vehicular weapon,” has apparently helped with this.
For Yee, the priority right now is to keep identifying the community’s “pain points” and addressing them. He also hinted at some more long-term plans: a particular goal is to add more than 30 tiers to the battle pass, with a range of “different types of rewards”. Players who have been asking for leaderboards to be added to the PS4 version could also be getting some good news, as Yee hinted “something along those lines” will be added in future. Apparently Daybreak has some big plans in store for the game – but we’ll have to wait for those to be finalised first before we hear more about them.
I asked Yee about Daybreak’s difficult path over the last few years – not only in regards to H1Z1’s struggles on PC, but also the studio’s recent layoffs, which saw jobs cut across several departments in April. Here’s what Yee had to say:
“The games industry has some ups and downs – no doubt about it. But, again, the only thing we can focus in on is the future and trying to make the best version of our version of a battle royale game as possible. So that’s why we’re continually trying to focus in and double down on the PS4, and we look forward to working with the community as we continue to develop it.”