Here’s a turn-up for the books: far from being contained to battle royale, PUBG Corp is branching out into narrative titles, as the company has today unveiled its new studio Striking Distance.
The studio will “create an original narrative experience within the PUBG universe”, whatever that may be. A post-Soviet thriller? An adventure through the Thai jungle? A Mad Max version of Miramar?
In any case, it seems the new studio will be in good hands, as industry veteran Glen Schofield is taking the helm as CEO. As vice president and general manager at Visceral Games, and later a co-founder of Sledgehammer, he’s worked on some major titles such as Dead Space and Call of Duty. In his introductory video, Schofield said he’s looking forward to “the freedom to explore the PUBG universe” and the opportunities that offers, “which we view as beyond battle royale”.
In terms of practicalities, Striking Distance is being built from the ground up and will be based in San Ramon, California. It’s wholly owned by PUBG Corp, meaning the mother company will also pubglish the new title.
In the context of a recent Kotaku report into Treyarch’s takeover of the expected Sledgehammer-made 2020 Call of Duty title, you have to wonder what’s been going on at the studio in recent years. Schofield and fellow co-founder Michael Condrey departed Sledgehammer back in February 2018, ostensibly for executive positions at Activision, before both quietly exited the company. Condrey left to establish a new (as-yet unnamed) 2K Games studio in early 2019. Sledgehammer, meanwhile, will now serve as a support studio for the 2020 COD game (alongside Raven), and the studio has apparently been haemorrhaging employees over the past few months. Sounds like a bit of a mess.
Back in PUBG Corp, PlayerUnknown himself recently announced he was moving on from the main game to lead a new branch called PUBG Special Projects. Brendan Greene remains a “consulting creative director” on PUBG, but it feels like PUBG Corp is now entering a new stage of its life. One with stories, as well as battle royale.