PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Bluehole Studios' PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is currently getting review bombed. It's a rare thing that happen to games for a number of reasons; usually it's in relation to a game feature not being implemented properly, or being a bad port, or some anti-consumer measure taken by the developers. In this case, it's a bit more complex and nuanced than some other review bombing situations. The short gist of it is that some Chinese gamers are angry about having to pay extra to access proxies in order to reduce their latency because there are no Chinese game servers.

Over on the official Steam store page you'll quickly notice that the overall review rating has gone from positive down to mixed. The histogram at the bottom of the page shows a huge spike in negative reviews -- as of the writing of this article there are more than 22,000 negative reviews logged since September 28th, 2017, many of which are from Chinese gamers.

With the recent update from Valve, it shows that the negative reviews (also known as review bombing) are in response to two things: the first issue is the ongoing problem of "stream sniping," where players are accused of and banned for allegedly watching a live-stream on Twitch of someone playing the game and then killing the streamer in the game after figuring out their position. Plenty of players are complaining in the reviews about being banned for stream-sniping, and claiming that this is hurting the gameplay of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds due to streamers getting a say-so on who is stream-sniping.

The second major problem is more of a service issue. Thousands upon thousands of Chinese players have complained to Bluehole about paid proxies in order to reduce latency. What makes this so bad is that some players are complaining that the cost of the proxies to limit the lag is about the same price as the game itself, but they only gain access to the proxies for about four months at a time. So, third-parties are making money on the recurring fees required for Chinese players to play on the same servers as those in the U.S. and in Europe since there are no official Chinese servers for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds at the moment.

Things escalated even further when the beta update went live for Steam gamers on September 26th, making it so players are unable to choose their region of preference and there's an added in-game advertisement for Chinese players to purchase an "official" proxy accelerator. Many of the players feel this is insulting because they've already paid for the game and now they're being advertised a proxy that will help net them decent ping when playing against Americans and Europeans.

The real issue here is that many Chinese gamers playing PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds are angry that there are no official servers for their region, and yet they're being goaded into paying extra just to play the game with any sort of decent ping. It really is an unfortunate situation.

The bigger question is, obviously, why there are no official Chinese servers or servers dedicated to Asia? A lot of complaints centering around the proxies and the in-game proxy ads would be alleviated with dedicated regional servers. This is especially egregious given that many players are also still complaining about a lack of proper optimization and performance, so they're essentially paying twice to play the game and still aren't receiving a top-tier gameplay experience.

As for the issue with the stream-sniping... well, I'm not sure exactly how Bluehole can resolve that problem, but it doesn't sound like it's going away anytime soon.

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