Brendan Greene went from collecting welfare checks to creating one of the most popular battle royale games on the market, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), which made an estimated $1 billion in revenue last year, according to a report from CNBC.
In 2013, Greene explained that he wasn’t in a great place after finding himself divorced and stuck in a foreign country. During that time, he made money by designing websites and photographing weddings, with the intention of saving enough to purchase a ticket back to his home in Ireland. Greene said, in order to save, he had to cut back on going out and so he ended up turning to video games to pass the time.
“I was kind of stuck in my bedroom, basically working and playing games,” Greene told CNBC.
Greene went on to say that he played everything from Atari 2600 to PlayStation 2 but was never a serious gamer. It wasn’t until he discovered the world of online video game “mods,” which allowed fans to modify existing games to create unique gameplay experiences, that he became hooked. With his background in web design, Greene already had some of the tools he needed to begin experimenting with modifying games. He immediately fell in love with survivor-style games and was inspired by Japanese sci-fi movie Battle Royale, where students are dropped on an island, given weapons, and then forced to fight to the death.
Eventually, Greene made his first mod and named the game after the movie that inspired him. He described the model “as ‘a last-man-standing death-match,’ where a group of players are dropped in a harsh environment, scramble to find weapons and battle each other to the end,” according to the report. He continued to develop his game and caught the eye of a game developer at Sony Online Entertainment (now called Daybreak Game Company) and was called to consult with the company. Greene ended up working with the company for two years, which was enough to get him back on his feet and off welfare.
“I had gone in to my welfare officer and I explained what I was doing and he said, ‘Well, listen, you really should get a job.’ And, I was like, ‘Just bear with me,'” Greene recalls. “And, then as soon as I got the call from Daybreak, I had gone in and went, ‘You can sign me off now.’ And he was very happy.”
Things didn’t really take off for Greene until a few years later. In 2016, South Korean game company Bluehole, which is now known as Krafton Game Union, reached out to Greene about developing his own battle royale title, which later became PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). After launching PUBG, Greene said he had no idea how successful the game would become.
“I remember seeing the number of sales just constantly going up and up and up, and it just wouldn’t stop and it wouldn’t slow down. In fact it got quicker,” he told CNBC.
“It was such a massive growth that it didn’t really sink in, and I don’t think it really has, so it’s kept us all quite grounded.”
In March, Greene announced he would be stepping away from his position as the director of development on PUBG to join a new division of the company, according to a report from Polygon. In his new role, Greene will be working on other games, but he will remain on the PUBG team as a consulting creative director.