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PUBG studio director talks bots, Sanhok remaster and staying competitive in the battle royale market

It’s been over three years since PUBG first popped up on Steam, and while that’s a relatively short time on paper, it somehow feels much longer. Perhaps it’s because the wider gaming landscape around PUBG has changed so much: no longer the only battle royale on the block, PUBG now finds itself sharing that market space with several competitors, with a new contender appearing practically every few months.

Given the game is no longer sparkling new and the battle royale market is so crowded, it’s little wonder PUBG’s player numbers are not what they were in 2017. But that’s not to say the game has disappeared – it’s still able to pull in 500k Steam concurrents on a daily basis, and has now sold 70m units. With PUBG heading into its eighth season (on 22nd July for PC and 30th July for consoles and Stadia), it seems as good a time as any to catch up on the general state of the game. I asked PUBG Madison studio director Dave Curd about PUBG Corp’s long-term strategy, the Sanhok map remaster, and what sort of changes we’ll see in Season 8. And also what’s happening with those controversial bots.

We’ve seen a couple of map remasters from PUBG Corp already: starting with Erangel and then Vikendi, the latest to get the makeover treatment is Sanhok, with seemingly everything getting an overhaul in Season 8. I mean this quite literally. “Every building, wall, floor, rock, blade of grass and tree has been updated to have better, more accurate fidelity in terms of materials,” Curd said of the updated art style. “From a storytelling perspective we really want to show that it’s been some time since players have been to Sanhok, so more moss, algae, overgrowth… we really wanted the players to feel like they were exploring this overgrown jungle environment.” On top of revamping the old, there’s also a couple of new locations, including a tourist town called Getaway with a neon nightclub and pool cabanas, and an airfield at the north-eastern end of the map to replace the coconut farm.

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