fortnite (Image via Youtube).

Why ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ Should Definitely Not Be Suing ‘Fortnite’

The suit is a showdown between the best of the best of the battle royale games.

The “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’” (PUBG) developers from Bluehole Entertainment recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the developers of “Fortnite” at Epic Games.

In “PUBG’s” press release, they noted a concern with “Fortnite’s” similarities in User Interface (UI), gameplay and the structural replication of the battle royale mode. Does Bluehole Entertainment have a case or are they simply just trying to monopolize the battle royale genre?

The debate to name the best battle royale game has been a toss-up between these two games, and, as of late, “Fortnite” has been winning. In the month of April “Fornite” nearly made $300 million, whereas the “PUBG” player counts have been declining month after month.

“Fortnite” is one of the biggest battle royale games to date. (Image via Polygon)

Before “Fortnite” released its battle royale game mode, “PUBG” essentially stood alone in the battle royale gaming community. The most viable competition they had was from “H1Z1: King of the Hill,” which couldn’t compete with the immersive gameplay of “PUBG.” Surprisingly, “H1Z1” is often thought to be the first official battle royale game to ever be made — not “PUBG.”

If “H1Z1” was the first battle royale game, then why is “PUBG” claiming this game genre for their own? Well, the creator of “PUBG,” Brendan Greene, was actually the lead developer of the battle royale game mode for “H1Z1,” and then, a few years later, he created its predecessor in “PUBG.” So maybe, Bluehole Entertainment does have some leverage over the battle royale genre.

However, “Fortnite” is actually not all that similar to “PUBG” when compared to other battle royale games, such as “H1Z1.” This is due to the fact that “Fortnite” gives the player a different user interface/gameplay, which allows the option to build structures, fly with jetpacks and set traps — all of which are unique to “Fortnite.”

Contrary to this, “PUBG” comes very close to being a carbon copy of “H1Z1.” It has all of the same attributes, except “PUBG” does a better job at paying attention to details by including gun attachments and better driving mechanics.

One of the simplest arguments to be made is that, since these two games are both battle royale games, there is bound to be some similarities. In all three of the games mentioned, the players jump out of the planes (or a bus — as played in “Fortnite”) and parachute down to the arena. Once they land, the players race to loot for weapons, health and ammunition for the ensuing full-on 100 PvP deathmatch — the last man standing wins.

This is all essential for true battle royale game modes, except, maybe, the need to parachute down to the map. Thus, the concern that there is an overwhelming amount of similarities in the structural replication of the battle royale mode is a poor one because there is not much wiggle room here.

To “Fortnite’s” credit, it almost seems that they went out of its way to make sure that it had a different style/feel to it so that “PUBG” wouldn’t be able to sue them. A huge part of this is credited to its art design and quirky gadgets. It truly seems like a unique game — given that it is a battle royale game.

“PUBG” has sued “Fortnite,” which is it’s biggest competitor in the battle royale video game genre. (Image via Comic Book)

Another interesting dynamic to this lawsuit is that Bluehole Entertainment licensed the “Unreal Engine 4” from Epic Games. In other words, “Fortnite” created the technology that “PUBG” uses to run its game.

Maybe there is an internal conflict that is not publicized about these two companies because wouldn’t it make sense for “PUBG” developers to fear that “Fortnite” developers will no longer lease to them now that they are being sued.

We do not know the specifics regarding the lease agreement, but there has to be something in there that allows for Epic Games to back out if something were to occur, like getting sued. if this were to happen, “PUBG” wouldn’t be able to continue to update their game or it could completely take the game off the market.

Battle royale is a game genre that has become an unstoppable force. Many games are announcing that they, too, will now host a battle royale game mode (i.e. “Call of Duty,” “The Darwin Project,” “Mavericks: Proving Grounds,” etc.). Will “PUBG” go after these game developers as well? They can’t sue all of their competitors, can they? In addition to this, the concept of a battle royale game is an idea, and ideas are hard to copyright.

Brendan Greene told BBC “I want other developers to put their own spin on the genre… not just lift things from our game.” Everyone wants this, and nobody wants to be playing the same game made by different companies. Gamers like diversity by switching up game modes.

“Fortnite” provided this diversity in the genre at the right time, and that is why they became so successful, so fast. It is the perfect level of diversity because it offers new strategies while, at the same time, keeping the battle royale survivor mentality.

Overall, this seems like a bad PR move for “PUBG” because, instead of acting proactively, they acted reactively. “Fortnite” surpasses “PUBG” fair and square. Instead of improving their game, “PUBG” decided to try their luck in court.

“PUBG” wrote they are concerned with “Fortnite’s” similarities in User Interface (UI), gameplay and the structural replication of the battle royale mode; however, these are all aspects of the game that are bound to be somewhat similar given the battle royale game mode.

“Fortnite” has recently been sued by “PUBG” on the basis of originality and similarity. (Image via The Daily Beast)

“Fortnite” did an exceptional job at making the structural components of the battle royale mode different from “PUBG.” The gameplay is similar, but that is strictly due to the game genre. The only argument “PUBG” may have a little weight on is the User Interface; however, this is not well defined and specific details are needed for further analysis.

This article was even written by a “PUBG” advocate. I prefer to play “PUBG” over “Fortnite” on any given day. I simply like the real-life look of “PUBG.” However, I honestly think the Bluehole Entertainment group made a mistake by filing this lawsuit.

Bradley Howlett, Grand Valley State University

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Bradley Howlett

Grand Valley State University

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