It was only a matter of time; battle royale is to gaming in 2019 what survival crafting titles were to the industry five years ago, and now FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki has stated in an interview with The Telegraph that the developer might test the waters with a BR experience of its own. While he didn’t deliver any concrete details and spoke based on simple conjecture, it’s not unthinkable that the studio would venture in a new direction following the release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice later this month.
“These games are definitely fun, and we’re interested in the patterns they are taking,” Miyazaki stated, also adding that, should FromSoft act upon these ambitions, the result “might be different” from many competing titles. The Telegraph correspondent Tom Hoggins correlated these comments to the unprecedented success of Tetris 99—the out-of-left-field battle royale spin-off of the original 1984 puzzle classic—and argued that another new take on the now-overdone formula could do the industry some good.
Yet, most will likely find Miyazaki’s statements to be more than a little disheartening; FromSoftware has long stood as a bastion of innovation and creativity amidst a sea of bland development studios and publishers eager to spew out digital minimum viable products. Perplexingly, while the Japanese studio is known for releasing some of the most beloved single-player experiences of all time, Miyazaki insinuated that he’d like to escape from a development space he believes to be overcrowded.
“Single player action games don’t feel too rare in the current climate,” he said. “We do need this diversity in the industry. Regardless of what FromSoftware is doing, we need people making battle royale games and live services…”
The idea that FromSoftware, the same studio which green-lit such incredibly niche products as Dark Souls and Bloodborne, would adopt the oft-criticized live services model typically employed by industry antagonists Electronic Arts and Ubisoft should make fans’ skin crawl. That’s not to discount their ability to produce quality titles or perhaps develop a successful battle royale contender, but the idea that FromSoft would go from such incredible highs to such potentially-disastrous lows is disquieting to say the least.
With the triple-A space addled by a glut of underwhelming live service titles seeking to peddle microtransactions first while throwing additional content on the backburner, Miyazaki's comments nearly come across as hyperbolic. With titles like Fortnite, PUBG, and Apex Legends already vying for market dominance, most gamers would likely prefer FromSoftware to stick to what they do best: single player action RPGs.