They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but what if it goes too far? That’s the conundrum Bluehole is in with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale mode. Bluehole has said that it’s now concerned over the similarities of the two games.
Here’s what Bluehole VP and Executive Produdcer Chang Han Kim had to say:
We’ve had an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout PUBG’s development as they are the creators of UE4, the engine we licensed for the game,. After listening to the growing feedback from our community and reviewing the gameplay for ourselves, we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.
We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press. This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.
Kim also mentioned that the PUBG community has been providing the studio (Bluehole) with evidence on host ow closely Fortnite is aping PUBG. Bluehole is now “considering further action” on the matter, though nothing specific has been made public yet.
For more background on the PUBG vs Fortnite issue, NeoGAF has given a rather detailed look at the situation where each side’s perspective is given a fair shake.
1.) It’s plausible that this game bothers Bluehole where other games did not as there was a rumor floating around that Tencent was trying to buy Bluehole, and now Epic, which has a ~40-49% ownership by Tencent, is making a similar game. I don’t believe PUBG has had an official launch in China yet either, so due to Tencent, this could beat them to that market. Battle Royale games are very popular in China and Korean companies are very successful in China as well, so there’s a significant business angle there.
2.) Epic and Bluehole did work together to modify Unreal Engine to help support games like this. It’s possible to make an argument that Epic benefited in getting up a competing game due to this.
3.) It is worth noting that Bluehole was actually founded on both corporate theft (they stole Lineage 3’s art assets, design documents, and technology, and lost at the South Korean supreme court) and clone games (Devilian is very much Diablo), so it’s plausible they feel that the legal system is actually an effective way to deal with issues given they’ve lost to it before. Others might see this as hypocritical given nothing was found to be wrong with Devilian.
4.) It’s also worth noting that PUBG is actually a rather late comer in this genre, even if the genre originator was working on it. H1Z1 was a game he contracted to work on (and we’ve never known if he made a deal to keep the rights to the game design after doing so) before joining with Bluehole. Similarly, The Culling has an exceptionally similar design with less players, and released around a year before PUBG did with no work from PlayerUnknown himself, which Bluehole has raised no objection to. It’s worth noting this was also an Unreal Engine 4 game. Daybreak (formerly SOE) has said that PUBG wouldn’t exist without H1Z1, but has not made outward legal threats toward Bluehole.
5.) Bluehole does object to Epic referencing PUBG in their discussions of Fortnite Battle Royale. Now, there are certainly lots of games that do this with terms like Metroidvania or Dark Souls games, but I’m not sure if a legal precedent has been established that this is actually okay to do.
Do you think Fortnite Battle Royale (which will be free starting next week) is copying PUBG a tad too much? Is Bluehole being too paranoid? Let us know your thoughts in the matter in the comments.