Boss Key Productions Parachutes Into Battle Royale Arena With "Radical Heights"
Boss Key Productions Parachutes Into Battle Royale Arena With “Radical Heights”
As Fortnite and PUBG continue to dominate Twitch viewership and revenue charts it was inevitable that a parade of copycats and new challengers in the battle royale genre would try to challenge the current duopoly in the genre. The latest is “Radical Heights,” a wacky 80s-aesthetic free-to-play PC-only battle royale game from Boss Key Productions, the studio behind 2017’s hero shooter Lawbreakers.
Early reviews of the game appear cautious with a fair amount of memeing about the BR bandwagon, but much as Lawbreakers struggled to attract users away from the heavy gravitational pull of competitor Overwatch, Radical Heights seems to be opting into a brutal uphill battle on Day 1 with Fortnite and PUBG.
As Forbes writer Paul Tassi recently noted:
The vibe I’m getting from Fortnite is the same one I got from League of Legends and Overwatch, which ended up being the respective kings of the MOBA and hero shooter genres. League, like Fortnite, came after the true originator, DOTA, but improved upon it enough to siphon its playerbase and permanently retain its status as the master of the MOBA genre. Even future offerings from Blizzard (Heroes of the Storm) couldn’t come close to unseating it after it was fully established.
Radical Heights is launching the same week as H1Z1 is launching their professional esports league, but neither seems particularly well set up for success given the overwhelming popularity of PUBG and Fortnite and their battle-tested gameplay. While Radical Heights is just beginning its journey and H1Z1 is trying to rally from a prolonged period of hemorrhaging players (the average concurrent user count for H1Z1 has dropped more than 80% between July 2017 and now according to SteamCharts), both are hoping to find success in the same crowded battle royale marketplace.
One area in particular which has not received as much attention from mainstream press but which underscores the challenge of trying to dethrone Fortnite and PUBG is that both titles have well-regarded, popular mobile and console versions (PUBG’s mobile version is admittedly generally more well-regarded than its console version) of their games to match their core titles on PC, to say nothing of cross-platform play. Radical Heights launching as a PC-only Early Access game means starting from behind on multiple levels against two established juggernauts. It’s possible Radical Heights can innovate their way into finding a credible niche in the marketplace, but given the new era of multi-platform ubiquity in Battle Royale (something DOTA and League do not feature in the MOBA genre), the climb seems more uphill than ever.
The NBA 2K League Draft Impresses with Typical Draft Night Feel
The NBA 2K League had their inaugural Draft this past Wednesday at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The draft received rave reviews for its professionalism and authenticity and showed the NBA’s deep commitment to this league. Adam Silver was on hand to deliver the first pick and Adrian Wojnarowski, known for his early inside NBA scoops called “Woj Bombs”, even broke the first pick early. The event was broadcasted simultaneously on NBA TV and Twitch and when I tuned in on Twitch there were over 15,000 concurrent viewers.
This is exactly what the NBA 2K League needed after a rough few weeks leading up to the draft that included some league applicants questioning if the league selection process was fair.
The draft had the perfect combination of a typical NBA Draft feel while remaining authentic to its gaming roots. Players were referred to by their gaming names throughout the selection process and commentators did a great job of explaining the possible draft strategy to fans. Each player was given an interview after being selected which really shed light on the diverse and unique roads each player had to take to get to the podium. This draft proved to the esports community that the NBA was serious in its commitment to the league and was not just chasing the latest trend. Teams did an excellent job creating their own ancillary content around the draft and sharing what it was like behind the scenes, providing novel content that has never been seen before.
From here players have already begun reporting to their cities to start training in team houses and league sponsors have begun to emerge, adding validation from a conceptual and financial perspective. There are still many questions surrounding the league like the exact scheduling and Adam Silver acknowledges there will be growing pains but, overall, the NBA did a great job with the first NBA 2K League draft and set a tone they hope to maintain through their rest of the inaugural season and beyond. Going forward, I expect a lot of innovation to come from the team side as each will push one another to do the best activations and integrations with their NBA counterparts.