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PUBG, one of 2017’s biggest games, to be released on PS4 – but it could be a while coming

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has sold more than 30 million copies since its release on PC in May 2017 and on Xbox One and Steam in December. However, it’s not available for the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch. Here’s why

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 8:16pm

PlayerUnknown’s BattlegroundsPUBG as it’s known – is a wildly popular video game.

It launched exclusively on PC in March 2017, a US$30 game available through the popular Steam digital storefront, and more recently on the Xbox One. Nearly 30 million people have already bought PUBG – yet, you can't play on a PlayStation 4, nor can you play it on Nintendo’s Switch console. 

Eventually, you may be able to do just that – the matter of when is still up in the air.

“It’s going to be an exclusive title on Xbox One for some time,” says PUBG chief executive Kim Chang-han. “The final goal,” he says, “would be to launch the title on every platform.”

A spokesperson for PUBG wouldn't even offer up that much when we asked for the official statement. “The team is focusing on the game’s PC and Xbox Game Preview versions, and has nothing further to share at this time,” we were told via email.

The truth, of course, is more complicated.

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With more than 70 million PlayStation 4 consoles sold and an expected 14 million Nintendo Switch consoles sold by March, there are plenty of good reasons to bring out PUBG on as many platforms as possible. But PUBG – a multiplayer online battle game – has an exclusivity agreement with Microsoft that keeps the game locked to the Xbox One for an unknown length of time. All we know is there’s some form of agreement.

The game’s creative director, Brendan Greene, says that the decision to go with Microsoft was a measure of the Xbox One “Game Preview” programme, a version of Steam’s early access programme that allows the public to buy and play unfinished games. 

“It allows us essentially to do early access on a console,” says Greene. 

Since the game’s launch for Xbox One on December 12, PUBG has received several major updates – but it still has a long way to go before it’s considered “complete.” The game feels incomplete, with seams showing everywhere. There is no projected launch date for the game’s 1.0 version on Xbox One, and without that, it’s hard to guess when the game could arrive on the PS4 and Switch. 

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“We definitely do have plans for other platforms,” says Kim. “But no details have been finalised.” 

It took all of 2017 to get the PC version to 1.0. It’s entirely possible that the Xbox One version will take the same time, to say nothing of versions on other consoles, but we just don’t know.

It’s easy to understand why PUBG caught on: it’s a crazy game that’s different every time you play it. You’re one of 100 people parachuting onto a massive island that’s been deserted, but only after it was heavily furnished with weapons, ammunition, energy drinks, and medical packs. As time counts down, early scrounging turns to tense skirmishes with one or many players. Will you be the last one standing?

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PUBG arrived as an “early access” game on PC, meaning it wasn’t fully completed. Audiences took to the game anyway. For now, that experience is exclusive to PC and Xbox One owners, but PUBG will eventually come to other platforms.