Dev Letter: Gunplay 2023

The developers of PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS have published a new letter, in which they revealed the main trends in the use of weapons in the game. In addition, PUBG Studios shared their plans for the near future - the company plans to add "new weapons and new shooting features" to PUBG

Last September, we introduced a new theme 'diversity and opportunity', and shared our future gunplay development direction of PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS.

Today, we would like to discuss the outcomes that our dev team has observed through our updates so far and discuss the positive changes we've seen in gameplay.

In this message, we have included data that describes the major trends in weapon use, a portion of which is being publicly disclosed for the first time. We also want to address promises we made in our previous Dev Letter, and respond to the abundant interest you've shown us.

Before we dive in, let's start with some context on PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS. Our game thrives on choices. Players craft their own plays by making moment-to-moment decisions: from the initial parachute drop to looting, on-the-move strategizing, and ultimate survival. The heart of the gameplay lies in the player's ability to make choices and strategically deal with the outcomes. Here, weapons play an integral role. In order to provide an immersive gaming environment, we believe that not only should there be diverse weapons, but also a stable meta and balance to support them. Moreover, we acknowledge that players invest their time and enthusiasm in our game, and recognize that our updates may not always meet your anticipations.

With this understanding, as we contemplate changes to weapon types and the meta, we are determined to better understand your perspectives throughout this year. Our commitment is to share our objectives and outcomes transparently, to value player opinions as much as possible, and to expand on the enjoyment of gameplay.

Addressing Imbalances in Gunplay: Strategies and Current Status

Over the past year and into this one, our dev team has focused on creating a balanced weapon usage environment. We are aware there have been times when certain powerful weapons, like the M416, Beryl M762, and SLR, have been particularly popular choices.

We hold the belief that circumstances where players consistently opt for a limited array of powerful weapons could potentially dilute the overall enjoyment of the game. As a result, to elevate and diversify the gaming experience, we deem it crucial to expand the range of viable weapon choices.

While it was essential to improve the effectiveness of less popular weapons in addition to ARs and DMRs, the primary focus of our updates has been the weapons that players typically use. Our efforts have been geared towards creating an environment where the choice between 5.56mm and 7.62mm weapons is influenced by personal preference and combat situation, as opposed to the perceived inherent superiority or inferiority of the weapon. Steps towards this aim include balancing the M416, introducing new options like the Mk12 and ACE32, and making the AUG a world-spawn weapon.

As we implemented these updates, we meticulously log all gameplay activity shown by players, turning this data into quantifiable metrics for continuous monitoring. Our objective extends beyond simply gathering information; we strive to analyze and reflect the impact of each update as objectively as possible.

Through this Dev Letter, we plan to address the issue of weapon imbalance by examining factors such as weapon usage rates and win percentages. Furthermore, we are eager to share with you the extent of progress we've made in resolving these imbalances.

Enhancing the Ratio of Weapon Usage

The 'kill ratio' is perhaps the most intuitive metric we have, representing the ratio of all kills made with each specific weapon. By aggregating data from all players across all matches, we can provide a clear snapshot of the overall trends in weapon use. Furthermore, fluctuations in the 'kill ratio' can signify shifts in player perception and behavior towards certain weapons, highlighting areas that could be particularly challenging to enhance.

Early 2022, we observed a stark contrast in the kill ratio of 5.56mm and 7.62mm weapons, which stood at approximately 30:70. This imbalance was notable even by our internal benchmarks. Given that our insights stem from comprehensive statistics derived from a multitude of logs, we believe that players might have sensed this discrepancy more profoundly, especially if they repetitively gravitated towards a particular weapon. The gap between individual weapons also widened, with 5.56mm choices primarily reduced to the M416, and 7.62mm choices confined to the Beryl M762 and SLR.

In response to this imbalance, while the 7.62mm category provided relatively diverse options, including the Beryl M762 and ACE32, the 5.56mm segment was increasingly dominated by the M416. To balance out this trend, we sought to introduce a broader spectrum of 5.56mm weapons by repurposing the AUG as a world-spawn weapon and adjusting its performance; we aimed to position it on par with the Beryl M762.

Following the AUG update, our expectations were met as the AUG and M416 began to share the spotlight among the 5.56mm weapons, effectively expanding the choice of Assault Rifles. We also observed an improvement in the kill ratio between 5.56mm and 7.62mm weapons, which now stands at a balanced 51:49.

We are committed to ensuring that individual weapon groups, such as Assault Rifles and Designated Marksman Rifles, also exhibit similar trends. As for ARs, they have achieved a state of equilibrium, while DMRs are maintaining a ratio close to balance at 53:47. With regard to DMRs, we acknowledge that the Mk12 currently displays a higher usage rate, with a pronounced disparity among different DMRs. We are contemplating strategies to address this, such as introducing new 7.62mm weapons to increase available choices.

To sum up, we'd like to report that the utilization of primary 5.56mm and 7.62mm weapons has reached our intended targets, maintaining an unprecedented equilibrium. It's not only uplifting that we've reached this level of balance for the first time since our service launched, but it's also deeply gratifying to see a diverse assortment of weapons, each with its own unique characteristics, making a significant contribution to the gaming experience.

Enhancing Weapon Win Rates

Throughout our updates, we have adjusted the balance of many frequently-used weapons such as the AUG, Beryl M762, ACE32, M416, Mk12, and more. In this post, we aim to share with you the win rates of individual firearms, a topic we did not discuss in the previous Dev Letter.

The data that follows represents the probability of each weapon winning in all 'AR vs AR' or 'DMR vs DMR' engagements. This information, derived from comprehensive player match logs, provides an insightful look at individual weapon performance, extending beyond player skill.

We have taken a cautious approach to ensure that the win rates of most primary weapons do not deviate significantly from 50%, all the while maintaining long-term balance in terms of usage rates.

The AUG, perceived as relatively powerful, boasts the highest win rate within the 5.56mm AR category. However, this closely parallels the Beryl M762, which holds a similar position within the 7.62mm AR category. Given that the AUG had a win rate surpassing 60% when it was exclusively available in Care Packages, we believe it has been suitably adjusted since becoming a world-spawn weapon.

After the balance adjustment in the #22.2 Update for the M416, we have closely monitored player feedback and win rate metrics. Despite apprehensions, the M416 continues to be widely used by players, and the difference in win rate before and after the patch is just about 1%, implying that the actual combat performance has not significantly changed.

The Mk12, which received a lot of feedback about being overly powerful, experienced a decline in its initially high win rate by over 3% after the adjustments in the 22.1 Update. Nevertheless, it still performs well compared to other DMRs and we will persist in tracking its performance.

Variations in both kill proportions and win rates among individual weapons are to be expected, given the unique characteristics and status each weapon possesses in the PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS gameplay framework. Regardless, we pledge our commitment to refining the gameplay experience, striving to balance weapon dynamics, and introducing new changes to less favored weapons.

Future Plans

In our last Dev Letter, we committed to enhancing the excitement of gunplay in a more encompassing way. Now, we would like to give you a glimpse into our forthcoming plans.

Initially, our goal is to foster fresh gunplay opportunities via updates to weapon categories or even larger-scale trends.

We will continue to diligently monitor the utilization and performance of popular weapons, while also closely observing those that currently see less frequent use, given the current equilibrium. This includes lesser-used weapons within ARs and DMRs, as well as SMGs and LMGs which consistently display lower overall usage rates. We will carefully review and develop these non-mainstream weapons so that they can each have their unique identity and functionality.

Moreover, during this process, we aim to minimize updates that could be stressful to players, such as excessive adjustments to favored weapons.

We are also excited to inform you that you will very soon get to meet a new weapon and new gunplay features.

Some of these content have already been hinted through previous Dev Letters or on social media, possibly heightening your curiosity about their impending release. Based on the achievements we have garnered over the past two years, we are proceeding with this fresh development after thorough deliberation.

Our plans encompass more than simply adding new elements - we will also carefully balance these for universal application across both Normal and Ranked Matches. While this might require some time, we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we pursue optimal outcomes.

Looking ahead, we are preparing for novel updates with the potential to shift the meta itself, and we invite your anticipation and enjoyment of both the current and future gunplay experiences.

In Conclusion

Through this Dev Letter, we've shared our new attempts and the outcomes achieved in gunplay over the past year and into the present.

Before we are developers, we are also avid fans of PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS, sharing in the thrill of employing a variety of weapons. We are steadfast in our promise not to become complacent, but to persevere in our efforts. Through this Dev Letter, we wish to articulate our unwavering commitment to strive for the better. We invite you to view this gunplay update not as a conclusion, but as a milestone in our ongoing journey.

Our dedication to ensuring that you, our valued players, can experience diverse and enjoyable gunplay remains unchanged. We also aspire to maintain an open line of communication about our process and the results of our careful consideration to foster a mutual understanding with you.

To ensure that the gunplay in PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS continues to be cherished for years to come, we are committed to persistent innovation, with 'diversity and opportunity' serving as our guiding principles.