Now, in the wake of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ runaway success, the new hotness is battle royale-style games. On that level, it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise that Epic Games announced its own BR mode in Fortnite, which you can play next week. (After this article was published, the dev team also gave some details on how the mode is coming along on the public test server.)
But one developer/publisher has taken issue at Epic Games’ foray into BR territory — and that’s the makers of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds itself, Bluehole Studios.
In a statement released today, Bluehole “responds to community concern surrounding Fortnite’s Battle Royale Mode.” We’re not sure who in the community is “concerned” but we’ll go with that for now. The press release on the matter calls PUBG “the first standalone Battle Royale survival shooter game” and will “contemplate further action” against Epic and Fortnite.
(NOTE: This link is the only place we could find the full statement from Bluehole. It doesn’t seem to be available over any official channels, and none of the other news sites where we’ve seen this story reported confirm that they received it directly from Bluehole. We’re inclined to believe it’s legitimate, but there’s a non-zero chance it could be part of an elaborate hoax. We’ve reached out to Bluehole and will update this piece if we learn anything different.)
(UPDATE: We’ve received confirmation from Bluehole Studio that the above statement is legitimate.)
So is this just sour grapes over someone else creating a similar game? Yes, to some extent, but Bluehole maybe has some kind of additional reasons to raise a beef. Epic Games is the maker of Unreal Engine 4, which is also licensed to Bluehole for PUBG. Additionally, Epic specifically called out PUBG in its announcement of its BR mode, saying “We love Battle Royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version.”
That’s hardly the first time a game has compared itself to other successful games to try and lure players — or think of any movie that says “From the makers of” (something popular). And I doubt there’s anything in the UE4 licensing agreement that prevents Epic — or any other company — from making a BR-style game with it. The whole press release comes off as petty and a little childish, especially when it concludes with this statement:
In a recent Reddit AMA (e.g. Ask Me Anything) session, Brendan Greene (aka PLAYERUKNOWN) was asked about other companies replicating the Battle Royale experience:
“Other companies will, of course, enter the marketplace, but I would just hope they put their own spin on the game mode and not just make a carbon copy!”
Considering its focus on building and generally different graphical look, I don’t think you could claim Fortnite Battle Royale is a “carbon copy” of the more realistic-looking PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. But hey, maybe that’s just me.