There’s no denying that PUBG (Playeruknown’s Battlegrounds) is a very popular video game at this point. We’ve all heard the numbers and what they’ve been accomplished has been nothing short of amazing. Suffice it to say, it’s been very successful. Which is puzzling as to why developers Bluehole Games, decided it needed to call out Epic Games’ new Battle Royale game, Fornite.
Now on one side of the argument, there have been comparisons to Fortnite as a “carbon copy” of Playeruknown’s Battlegrounds.
Fornite certainly shares a lot of similarities with PUBG with the third person camera angle, the shrinking map and the last-man-standing concept, but is that enough to put up a fuss? How many third-person dungeon crawling games come to mind that totally ripped off The Legend of Zelda? How many platformers have ripped off Super Mario? At what point is a game “ripping off” and not just inspired by another game? How far can we take inspiration?
What’s the old quote, “good artists copy, great artists steal”?
Here’s why the whole deal between Epic and Bluehole Games is just kind of awkward.
PUBG Uses an Epic Games Product
PUBG is built on the Unreal Engine, which is licensed from, guess who, Epic Games. It’s funny that PUBG was built on a product that was created by a now competing games studio. It’s also funny that Epic emulated an idea created by a game studio that uses one of its products. This part of the story is just a funny coincidence and in my opinion, just adds a little flavor to the story rather than holding any significance. It’s kind of like making a really good app on the iPhone and then having Apple release a similar feature on their phones.
Fornite Will Beat PUBG To Consoles
So at this point, we know that PUBG was created first. It was created using a product made by Epic. Epic then created a mode in an already existing game that was inspired by PUBG and is very similar to PUBG. To put a bit more salt into the wound, Fortnite will be making it to consoles before PUBG.
If you’re Bluehole Games, you’re thinking wow, these guys took what made us great and applied it to their own game and it’ll be in the hands of the consumers before us. I can see that seeming very unfair and I can absolutely see why there would be frustration there. This line of thinking comes from the idea that consumers have limited time and funds to spend on games and they might spend that on Fortnite rather than PUBG.
The problem with this line of thinking is it’s limited. It’s doing business in a finite space. It’s thinking about how they can limit the abilities of their competitors rather than focusing on how they can make their product the absolute best it can be. In fact, I would argue that they’ve done more harm in even mentioning Fortnite than if they would have simply focused on their own game.
When Ahead, Why Would You Ever Look Back?
There’s a reason why you’ll always see Burger King compare itself to McDonald’s in its commercials but you’ll never see McDonald’s compare itself to anyone. It’s because when you’re ahead, there is no comparison. One could argue that PUBG is on top of the battle royale genre right now. So it’s puzzling as to why they want to give any attention to Fornite’s Battle Royale mode at all? In fact, I would say this whole thing has done more for Fortnite than it has for PUBG. When you’re ahead, don’t even acknowledge the people behind you. Keep finding a way to grow.
When you acknowledge your competition, you sometimes come off looking a little self-conscious. Take for example when Gearbox called out Blizzard for their hero shooter Overwatch when they were releasing Battleborn around the same time. Rather than looking playful, they ended up looking scared. It’s just not a good look.
Are They Really Copying?
Does PUBG own the battle royale genre? No. That’s like saying every platformer that has come out has been a copy of Super Mario. The truth is, PUBG is a staple game that redefined and in some cases, perfected the genre. What does that mean? It’ll inspire people to make their own game better, taking from what made PUBG so successful. It’s just like when the iPhone first came out, everyone other phone company went high-functioning touchscreen phones. Were those phone companies copying or competing?
How Far Can Epic Take It?
While I don’t think Epic is doing anything wrong, I think it’s worth debating how closely can developers copy each other?When is “inspiration” taken too far? How much protection do game developers need to prevent things like this from happening? How much control should developers have over their game or their genre?
My Final Take
I think when it comes down to it, video games are an experience and you have to ask yourself, does Fortnite take away the experience from PUBG? In one game you have a grimy survival situation that puts human versus human until the last man is standing. In the other, you have cartoony, Pixar-like characters setting bases and traps pitting character versus character until the last character is standing in a similar shrinking map.
I do think that both games, while they play similarly, present different experiences to different audiences. I do think that they both present different worlds to immerse oneself and I think that in general, PUBG presents a more mainstream feel and will eventually win out. But that’s with the assumption that Bluehole focuses on making their game the best game they possibly can and keep looking forward rather than looking back.
UPDATE: It was recently announced that Fornite Battle Royale would be making its way to mobile iOS and Andriod devices, months after PUBG announced the same thing. See article for full details.