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The Real Reason You'll Never Get To Play These Battle Royales

Whenever a fresh new indie game comes out with a unique gameplay style or a clever twist on a well-known mechanic, its success usually results in countless other developers trying to follow suit. We've seen it with Minecraft and building games, or Slay the Spire and deck-building roguelikes. One of the biggest examples of this, though, has to involve the birth of the battle royale video game.

Popularized in 2017 by PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, the commercial appeal of the battle royale genre wasn't truly tapped into until the insane success of Fortnite: Battle Royale about a year later. Since then, developers big and small have tried their hand at developing their own takes on the genre in an attempt to capitalize on its popularity. Some have succeeded, but many have failed.

Here are some of the battle royale experiences that have been lost to the sands of time.

Egress went dark

On paper, a multiplayer-only Dark Souls-style battle royale game may just sound like a wild AI-generated video game pitch. It's a real video game, though, and it's called Egress. This wildly ambitious battle royale game turned plenty of heads when it was revealed back in 2018. After all, for as many Dark Souls clones and homages that have come out over the years, very few of them have been multiplayer-focused endeavors. The game was set to get a release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but those plans were put on hold once the initial Steam Early Access version of the game died.

The game came to Steam on Nov. 8, but a lack of advertising meant that hardly anyone was aware it had come out. With no consistent player base, the game eventually became a ghost town. Anyone who buys it now will find empty servers, a bevy of glitches, and a store page that hasn't been updated since October 2019.

The Culling 2 killed an entire franchise

For as many video game success stories that there are, there are infinitely more failures. Still, no video game failure comes close to the harsh history of The Culling 2, a game so bad that it killed two other games in the process.

Developer Xaviant had a modest hit on its hands with The Culling back in 2017, as the multiplayer survival game had some unique ideas that set it apart from competitors. Fans were furious, though, when the developer decided to suddenly abandon development on The Culling in favor of a full-priced sequel called The Culling 2.

The Culling 2 launched on July 10, 2018. Eight days later, on July 18, the game was shut down and removed from Steam and consoles. Rampant bugs, server issues, and complaints from fans of the original game forced Xaviant to not only shut down The Culling 2, but reverse the original game back to its day-one version and rebrand it as a free-to-play Early Access title called The Culling: Origins. That game eventually met the same fate, and now all three entries in the troubled Culling franchise are gone forever.

Mavericks: Proving Grounds ran out of money

When the battle royale craze first started booming with games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite, plenty of people were blown away by the idea of a multiplayer game with 100 people fighting at once. If that kind of number was impressive, then surely the promised one thousand player action of Mavericks: Proving Grounds would seem like downright witchcraft. Revealed at E3 back in 2018, the Automaton Games-developed battle royale promised to be a massively multiplayer experience where 1,000 survivors would duke it out in a huge world. There would be MMO-style hub areas, narrative missions for solo players or squads to tackle, and more.

If all of that sounds too good to be true, that's because it was. In July 2019, it was announced that, due to "insufficient funding," Mavericks: Proving Grounds had to be canceled. Additionally, Automaton Games was shut down entirely, meaning we'll likely never see this ambitious battle royale title ever again.

This Tribes battle royale game never materialized

Tribes may not be a household name like Quake or Halo are, but the team-based shooter series is a cult classic for fans of fast-paced and silky-smooth FPS action. Back in 2017, it seemed like we would be getting a new entry in the series that shifted toward a battle royale experience when publisher Hi-Rez Studios filed a trademark for something called Tribes Royale. Not much was known about this trademark filing, except that it was intended to be used for mobile device and tablet software.

Perhaps, at one time, Hi-Rez Studios was planning on making this new Tribes game a reality. Six months later, though, the studio instead announced a battle royale-style game mode for its hero shooter Paladins. In July of 2018, Hi-Rez revealed a completely standalone battle royale experience titled Realm Royale. Both of these games are still actively being developed and updated today, making it likely that Tribes Royale has been quietly shelved in favor of other projects.

PlanetSide Arena only lasted a few months

The battle royale genre may seem groundbreaking to some, but the truth is there have been shooters featuring enormous multiplayer battles for years. One such series, PlanetSide, is well known for featuring large-scale team-based ground combat where hundreds of players compete at once on massive maps. Considering the series is already known for massively multiplayer shooting action, it seemed only natural for a battle royale spin-off to come along in the form of PlanetSide Arena.

Unfortunately, this timely take on the sci-fi shooter series was over just as soon as it had begun. Announced in January 2018, PlanetSide Arena endured a rough development process that resulted in multiple delayed launches. Eventually, the game went into Steam Early Access in September 2019. Almost immediately after launching, though, the game struggled to maintain a consistent player count. By the time January 2020 rolled around, the servers for PlanetSide Arena were shut down for good.

Radical Heights was short-lived

What's worse than an indie developer launching one multiplayer-only original shooter game that ends up failing and shutting down within a year? How about two? Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski and his independent studio, Boss Key Games, put a lot of blood, sweat, and money into hero-based arena shooter Lawbreakers. When that game failed to make an impact and shut down just a few months after launching, however, the team scrambled to launch a new project that could help get Boss Key back on its feet.

Enter Radical Heights. Announced and launched in April 2018, this battle royale put an '80s spin on things that grabbed people's attention initially, but didn't manage to keep them engaged for long. A month after the launch of Radical Heights, Boss Key Games was forced to shut down. The servers for Radical Heights did stay up for a while, but eventually the player base waned and the title was removed from Steam.

Islands of Nyne shut its servers down

Apex Legends has been a smash hit since it launched in early 2019, putting a fresh and satisfying first-person shooter spin on the usually third-person action of the battle royale genre. Before the free-to-play Titanfall spinoff came out, however, another battle royale FPS had been in the works for years titled Islands of Nyne. Initially starting as a successful Kickstarter back in 2015, the game was even in the works before PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds came out.

So what happened? After a lengthy development period, things seemed to be moving along just fine for the game as it left alpha and went into closed beta. With little marketing and an already dwindling player base though, the game was dying before it had even gotten a proper release. In December 2018, it was announced that development on the game had ceased and it would become a free-to-play title. But if you try to play it today, you'll find the servers are no longer operational, leaving the few devoted Islands of Nyne players that exist lost at sea.

SOS simply vanished

Interestingly enough, SOS didn't actually launch as a battle royale game. Initially released in January 2018, the multiplayer indie title was a game show-inspired survival experience where players had to hunt for resources and compete to escape an island. It was a unique premise that got plenty of people interested in playing. There was a consistent player population, and SOS was earning a solid amount of buzz as a result.

When developer Outpost Games saw the booming success of the battle royale genre, though, it decided to pivot SOS entirely and turn it into a much more generic battle royale game. Fans were furious about the sudden change to SOS, and when the update came, players left. Outpost Games tried to walk back its mistake by launching two separate titles – SOS: Battle Royale and SOS: Classic. Unfortunately, both were devoid of players, and by November 2018, both flavors of SOS were shut down entirely and removed from Steam.

BTOOOM! Online was an enormous flop

If you're at all familiar with international cinema, you'll know that the battle royale genre gets its name and inspiration from an iconic Japanese film titled, you guessed it, Battle Royale. The premise of the movie, much like the games it inspired, focuses on dozens of people stranded on an island competing to be the last person standing. Long before PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds took inspiration from this film, Japanese manga series BTOOOM! paid homage to the famous film. BTOOOM! eventually became an anime series, which in turn eventually became a competitive multiplayer mobile game called BTOOOM! Online.

Unfortunately, the groundbreaking anime mobile game didn't last for long. When it initially launched, the game managed to reach the top of iTunes app charts. Just about two months after, however, the players left and never came back, causing BTOOOM! Online to ultimately flop and eventually shut down.

Fractured Lands became a literal wasteland

Plenty of battle royale games have vehicles in them, from sturdy vans and sleek sports cars to silly golf carts and even snowboards. These sometimes-wheeled beasts are usually nothing more than transportation tools in these games, and are rarely instruments of destruction. Fractured Lands aimed to change that, proposing a battle royale experience set in a drab and dusty Mad Max-style wasteland where vehicles were the ultimate weapons.

Launched in July 2018, the game hit Steam Early Access with plenty of buzz. Unfortunately, that buzz slowly fizzled out as the game plodded along with minor updates and not much advertising. With a hefty $25 price tag, it was hard for many to justify taking a gamble on the game, resulting in the player base eventually vanishing entirely as players moved on. With no updates to the game in over a year, empty servers, and no free-to-play option in sight, there is sadly no way for battle royale enthusiasts to experience the vehicular carnage of Fractured Lands.