While "Fortnite" was distributing over US $60 million in prizes over the weekend, its Battle Royale forerunner "PUBG" was fighting back through a new season of content and a carefully timed sale.
"Fortnite" was making millionaires out of some of the world's best video game players on July 27 and 28, as fans, presenters, pro gamers, and studio staff gathered for the title's first World Cup Finals.
Less than two years after its September 2017 debut, the last-person-standing game was in a position to deliver US$3 million to the winners of its Duos team finals on July 27 and another US$3 million to its Solo champion on July 28.
DJ Marshmello played for the crowds and presenters urged their stadium and online audiences to fill social media with commentary and reaction, emphasizing the size and allure of each competition's winnings.
When "Fortnite" launched its free Battle Royale mode in September 2017, it was in response to the surging popularity of "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" (or "PUBG"), which had debuted six months earlier.
That swift pivot led "Fortnite" to establish itself on consoles before "PUBG"'s arrival.
Remaining loyal to the military survival aesthetic at Battle Royale's genre roots, "PUBG" has adopted elements from "Fortnite" through the introduction of seasonal content updates and associated Battle Passes.
Just days in advance of the Fortnite World Cup, "PUBG" Season 4 began on July 24, bringing not only a US$9.99 Battle Pass and the usual assortment of challenges, items, and costumes, but also a variety of missions that take players through a remaster of "PUBG"'s original island map, Erangel, in line with an emerging story laid out in its new cinematic trailer.
Though Season 4 is not expected on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One until later this year, the PC edition was propelled back to the top of the Steam store's weekly revenue-based charts, where the new season of "PUBG" play coincided with a half-price sale.
While "PUBG" runs on the same technology as "Fortnite," Epic Games' Unreal Engine, the games are segregated by studio and PC distributor -- "PUBG" is sold through Steam, "Fortnite" through its developer's curated storefront, the Epic Games Store.
Third-party tracking service SteamCharts notched a peak of 745,224 players over the weekend, with July 24th's Season 4 launch reversing "PUBG"'s slow downward trend, for the time being at least.
As for "Fortnite," World Cup presenters have begun looking ahead to the launch of a top-tier Champions Series alongside its Season 10 debut on August 1.