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Lawsuit Royale: PUBG Corp. Sues Epic Games

PUBG Corp. filed a lawsuit in South Korea accusing Epic Games of infringing on its copyright with the ultra-popular Fortnite Battle Royale.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) may have set the stage for battle royale games, but Fortnite Battle Royale stole the spotlight. Epic Games' take on the genre has more players, a bigger audience on Twitch, and potentially a larger esports scene thanks to Epic Games' pledge to contribute $100 million to the professional scene. With this new lawsuit, it seems PUBG's creators won't leave Fortnite Battle Royale uncontested.

The games do boast many similarities. Up to 100 players are transported via airplane or "battle bus" to a location featuring a few medical supplies, plenty of weapons, and an ever-shrinking safe zone surrounded by lethal gases or storm clouds. Each player strives to be the last one standing, but how they achieve that goal is up to the player. They can engage in firefights, skulk around the action, or simply hide in a bush.

That's where the similarities end. PUBG is based off military shooters that feature semi-realistic gun mechanics. It takes place in believable not-quite-real-world settings, and lets people choose between a third-person view or first-person perspective. Fortnite Battle Royale is defined by cartoony graphics, a building mechanic that lets adept players build the equivalent to the Sistine Chapel in mere seconds, and casual gun play.

Many gamers were captivated by PUBG when it debuted. It spent weeks atop the Steam charts, shattered records for concurrent players, and dominated Twitch streams. But then Fortnite Battle Royale came around with its free-to-play spin on the genre and usurped its predecessor in all major categories. In other words, it's fair to say that PUBG's backers popularized the battle royale category only to have Epic Games steal the thunder.

So now the fight will leave the digital realm and head to the courts. Though less violent, this battle could be even messier than anything that's happened in either game. PUBG is built on Unreal Engine 4, which means Epic Games could probably find a terms of service violation that would leave PUBG Corp. open to counter-suit--and while they're competitors, both companies are partly owned by Tencent. This is basically a family dispute involving the world's biggest games.

Because PUBG and Fortnite Battle Royale are involved, however, this is a lawsuit to watch. Both are rushing to establish dominance over the battle royale genre before it, like the first-person shooter and MMORPG genres, becomes crowded with new games. The court's decision could make the difference between battle royale being a viable genre, or every title too similar to PUBG risking a lawsuit or having to pay some kind of licensing fee.

We reached out to PUBG Corp.'s parent company Bluehole Studio and Epic Games for comment on the lawsuit and will update if either responds.

  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Did you reach out to Tencent?
    Reply
  • NinjaNerd56
    I bought PUBG, and played for a while; it was okay.

    Then, my kids got Fortnite, and we all play it. And 99% of the time, it’s the Save The World PvE campaign and not the PvP mode.

    Honestly, both are boring and/or frustrating just doing PvP - it’s the same old crap, time after time.

    The real fun is the co-op PvE in FN, which PUBG doesn’t have.

    If they were smart, they’d build a PvE mode to compete instead of suing and whining.
    Reply
  • derekullo
    21009566 said:
    I bought PUBG, and played for a while; it was okay.

    Then, my kids got Fortnite, and we all play it. And 99% of the time, it’s the Save The World PvE campaign and not the PvP mode.

    Honestly, both are boring and/or frustrating just doing PvP - it’s the same old crap, time after time.

    The real fun is the co-op PvE in FN, which PUBG doesn’t have.

    If they were smart, they’d build a PvE mode to compete instead of suing and whining.

    I don't support this point of view, but it is also possible for them to create a PvE mode and sue / whine.

    Spending a few thousand on a lawyer for a multi-million dollar payout isn't a bad return if you win the lawsuit.

    Reply
  • gggplaya
    I really don't think there's a lawsuit here simply because there are several Battle Royale movies like the japanese battle royale and hunger games, which throw players onto an island or dome. They use the environment to force contestants into a smaller area. So the concept of PUBG isn't original.

    The only thing they added was jumping out of a cargo plane, which is not really all that novel. Now if PUBG had made a flying bus and fortnite copied a flying bus, then you could seek some damages. But 99% of the rest of the game isn't PUBG's property or original idea.
    Reply
  • smashjohn
    So now we're trying to copyright genres and basic game concepts? Maybe EA should sue PUBG Corp because they had soldiers jumping out of cargo planes first. Or maybe ID Software should sue them because they had the first (of my memory) free for all mode in Quake. Or maybe Blizzard should sue them for copying the color coded rarity loot system found in Diablo. And Muse can sue them for making a first person shooter which is obviously a copy of Wolfenstein. smh...
    Reply
  • th3p00r
    ANDREWJACKSONZA: Did you reach out to Tencent?

    Tencent was in his pocket.
    Reply
  • techy1966
    I didn't know you could sue for something that has been done before years ago. Yes they expanded upon it but this type of game play is nothing new. All they are going to do is make them selves look like a-holes and cause people to hate their game. Maybe worry more about making the game better optimized so it can run on more hard ware smoothly and less buggy and people will actually want to play it more.

    Also the game has been out for a long time people get tired of the same old thing and move on to other adventures. The same thing will happen to Fortnite after it has been out longer and people start moving on to something else. They need to either make the game better or move on themselves and make PUBG 2 with all kinds of new features and game play stop riding on the coat tales of your first big game for so long or just add the features to the current PUBG & also fix the problems with the game.

    Fortnite may be the same type of game or close and it looks like a cartoon but they got it right by having the game run smoothly on a lot of hard ware straight from release oh and you can play some of it for free as well that is the biggest reason Fortnite is creaming PUBG...Maybe PUBG needs to have a scaled back free mode that matches the Fortnite free mode.
    Reply
  • captaincharisma
    i guess this means they will go after daybreak too over H1Z1
    Reply
  • dextermat
    The only real winners in lawsuits are the blood sucking lawyers, this needs to be rethink. Fines tabs are passed down to the costumer and after all this nothing changes.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    21010007 said:
    i guess this means they will go after daybreak too over H1Z1
    Actually, H1Z1's developer hired the lead developer of PUBG as a consultant, and officially licensed the Battle Royale concept from him. At the time, PUBG wasn't a thing yet though, so it was actually based on his previous mod for ARMA 2 that followed a similar concept.

    21009852 said:
    Maybe PUBG needs to have a scaled back free mode that matches the Fortnite free mode.
    I agree. They should look at some of the things Fortnite does better, and use that to improve their own game. Maybe add some additional modes, and make at least part of the game free to play, to get more people hooked on it. Also, focus on improving performance, so the game can run better on more systems, and on fixing hacking and latency issues that people have been complaining about since last year. Right now, PUBG stands at only 52% positive reviews on Steam, with only 35% positive in the last 30 days. Over 350,000 people have given their game a negative review on Steam, most with tens to hundreds of hours played, so I'm sure they should have a pretty good idea of what they need to do to improve it.
    Reply