The Battle Royale genre has been sweeping the gaming scene for a while now. At first, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, a former Arma 3 mod-turned-standalone-game rose to prominence with millions of players all over the world jumping on the bandwagon. Then, Fortnite, a similar-but-different F2P Battle Royale game became even more popular, leading the developers of PUBG to sue their competitors.
If reports are to be trusted, it’s claimed in PUBG Corporation’s suit that Fortnite, developed by Epic Games, infringed on PUBG’s copyright. At a single glance, you can easily see that both titles look like completely different games from each other, albeit with similar User Interfaces. It’s not as simple, though.
You see, PUBG is built on the Unreal engine, developed by Epic Games. This means that the Fornite developers are basically spoofing their partner’s product. What does that even mean?
Imagine that you make a living by selling ice cream.
To make your ice cream taste just right, you need a specific kind of milk. You pay the only provider of that kind of milk in the world good money for the product, only to have that same provider make their own kind of ice cream and significantly rip into your own market share of the product while taking your money at the same time.
Doesn’t sound fair, right?
It gets more complicated
Despite the underlying idea of Fortnite and PUBG being the same (get dropped on an island, get weapons, fight other people in a shrinking map until there’s a single person left alive), that’s where the similarities end.
While PUBG is made to be as realistic as possible due to the game’s Arma 3 roots, Fortnite is a different beast altogether. It is a cartoonish free-to-play game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It even adds features not present in PUBG with the ability to build structures to hide behind.
Yes, Fortnite does take the idea of Battle Royale from their partner, the developer of PUBG. It does not feel like a clone of PUBG when you play it. It does not look like a PUBG clone. If something doesn’t look walk like a duck, and doesn’t quack like a duck and doesn’t swim like a duck, chances are that it’s not a duck. The same can be said about PUBG and Fortnite.
If PUBG has a case against the developers of Fortnite, then Valve Entertainment should go to court against Riot Games because Dota 2 and League of Legends follow the same underlying principle of pick a champion, push objectives, take your opponents’ base to win the game. In fact, there was some legal action filed on both sides in 2010, when Valve and Riot fought for the right to the Dota name.
The two games are quite different, just like PUBG and Fortnite. Dota 2 is slow while League of Legends is more fast-paced, Dota 2’s graphics are more advanced, darker and less cartoonish than League of Legends’. Some in-game mechanics and the business model differ as well.
Of course, you can’t compare the LoL/Dota 2 case with PUBG/Fortnite directly because both titles were partly made by two different camps of the original Defense of the Ancients developers with different design principles.
While Dota 2 was made to be a full-game sequel to the original mod, built to resemble the original experience as much as possible, League of Legends took many liberties and the resulting game is a completely different beast, even if it is similar in its general idea.
It is a fact that PUBG is the first standalone game of the Battle Royale genre. Should that somehow stop other developers from trying to make their own games in the new genre? Of course not! If that was the case, we would be playing Wolfenstein 3D 35 instead of Overwatch, Far Cry and many other shooters, including PUBG itself and Fortnite.
While it’s completely understandable that the developers of PUBG are miffed with their partners for making a competing game and deeply cutting into their market share, the world simply doesn’t work like they think it does. Once you make something, other companies are welcome to try and improve on it. If they succeed, kudos to them.
Instead of hounding Epic Games with lawsuits, PUBG Corp. should go to work and do what their fans have been clamoring for a long time now and optimize their own game. Yes, they did it first but customers don’t care, they will follow the best possible experience. At the moment, that distinction belongs to Fortnite. To get their player base back, PUBG Corp. should make a game that’s better than Fortnite. It shouldn’t be that hard, they were the first to do it after all.