Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PUBG Mock the Millennial/Socialist Narrative

It feels like every single day, we hear from an endless wave of analysts, journalists, pollsters, politicians, and seemingly every family member over the age of 40 that Millennials expect everything to be handed to them. We’re told that little league participation trophies have led young Americans to completely forget the meaning and importance of competition in all things, particularly when it comes to economics and society. They tell us that Millennials are hopelessly lost to the banner of socialism given their alleged disdain for the competitive nature of the free market.

But there’s also something else we seem to constantly hear from these so-called "experts." According to many of the same people, kids today are also spending far too much time playing video games that pit players against each other as they compete for ultimate victory.
Is it possible that both of these sentiments are true? Or is it possible that the nation’s political class has simply failed to connect the value of competition in the marketplace to the type of competition that Millennials see and so clearly enjoy in their everyday lives?

Given the meteoric rise in popularity of brutally competitive “battle royale” games over the last two years, I’m inclined to believe the latter is true.

For those readers unfamiliar with the term, “battle royale” games are a relatively new genre of video game that takes the basic premise of more traditional shooters (think Call of Duty, Halo, and Battlefield) and dials the ruthlessness up to 11. At the start of a match in a standard shooter, a player is given a weapon, teammates to assist them, the super-human ability to survive multiple gunshots and infinite lives. They’re then told to defeat the other team in armed combat.

But in a “battle royale” game, a player is (typically) shoved in an aircraft with 99 other players, and given no weapons, armor, or teammates. They are then kicked out of the aircraft with all the other players over a 25-square mile map, where they must scavenge for the weapons they’ll need to defend themselves as the map rapidly shrinks over the course of about 30 minutes. As the clock ticks down, more and more players are eliminated until there is only one victor.

And here’s the kicker: In “battle royale” games, when you lose, you lose. No do-overs. No mulligans. No mercy.

Conventional industry wisdom tells us that these sort of games should never succeed in a marketplace already flooded with games that allow players to fail without fear of permanent in-game mortality. What kind of gamer would find instant and permanent defeat from the slightest mistake palatable after being coddled like this for decades, not only by the rest of the gaming industry, but by society at large?

Conventional industry wisdom got it so, so wrong.

One of the first games to truly get the genre right, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), sold over 2 million copies within the first three months after it first launched in March of 2017, and sold 50 million copies as of June of last year. Fortnite Battle Royale, a later but arguably the most successful title in the genre, saw over 10 million downloads in the first two weeks following its launch in September 2017 and currently boasts 200 million players as of November last year. But, both titles are rapidly being eclipsed by the latest entry to the genre Apex Legends, which garnered over 25 million downloads in its first two weeks following its release this past January and reached over 50 million players by the end of the month.

The fact of the matter is, gamers are totally sold on the idea of a merciless competition where there can be only one winner, and mistakes are punished swiftly and permanently. If gamers’ reaction to the infamous “pay-to-win” mechanics found in titles like Star Wars: Battlefront II are any indication, they’re surely supportive of merit-based in-game mechanics that favor skill and practice over access to a credit card.

Given that nearly 70% of Millennials and over 70% of Generation Z own a video game console, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that America’s youth not only understand competition, they revel and thrive in it when given the chance.

Millions of young Americans witness the power of competition in video games every single day. Furthermore, they witness the power of free markets and capitalism in the video game industry, as countless developers compete for their money by releasing bigger and better games almost daily. Even if they may not fully understand it, Millennials see the power of competition with great regularity.

So why are we seeing poll after poll showing them flocking to socialism in droves?

The "experts" have simply done a woeful job of explaining and applying what Millennials are seeing to our economy and our government’s role in it. Or its non-roll.