Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds developer Bluehole isn’t pleased with the recently announced Battle Royale mode for Fortnite. In a statement issued today, Bluehole has said it is “concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.”
Epic’s Fortnite is currently available as a paid Early Access title through the Epic Launcher. It’s a co-op horde mode game that’s garnered a surprisingly large fan base, with more than 500,000 pre-ordering the Early Access release. Since then, Epic announced a free-to-play Battle Royale mode for Fortnite, due to launch on September 26th. When Epic announced the game they were very explicit in their admiration for PUBG, citing it as the inspiration for adding a Battle Royale mode to Fortnite.
“We love battle royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version,” said Epic at the time.
This hasn’t sat well with Bluehole, who have issued a statement on the matter, admitting they are considering further action.
"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," said Bluehole VP and executive producer Chang Han Kim. "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,” Han Kim said. “This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.”
While Epic is very blatantly borrowing ideas from PUBG here, it’s kind of part and parcel of video game development. The entire history of video games is built on borrowed, tweaked or refined ideas, Battlegrounds included. It’s safe to say it owes a heavy debt to the likes of Arma 3 and H1Z1. It’s also something Bluehole is going to have to get used to. You can bet your bottom dollar every AAA publisher under the sun is considering a Battle Royale game of some form.
The additional wrinkle of intrigue is provided by Epic supplying the Unreal Engine that Bluehole uses for PUBG. This shouldn't ever be an issue, but it appears it's enough to make Bluehole pretty uncomfortable. It would be self-defeating for Epic to make any plays on this front, UE is its main earner after all.
The other key aspect which will have Bluehole worried is the speed with which Epic has got this turned around. Announced this week, Fortnite Battle Royale is available to play next Tuesday, for free, on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. PUBG is still a PC exclusive, with an Xbox One release due in November. Epic is coming along and stealing PUBG's lunch on consoles, with at least two months to bed in and attract an audience.
Where do you stand on games borrowing ideas from one another? Does Fornite’s Battle Royale mode look a little too close to comfort to PUBG? Let us know your thoughts!