We all get mad and lash out sometimes; maybe we said something we didn’t mean in anger or threw a punch when we should have talked. It could even be lodging frivolous, baseless lawsuits like some kind of corporate temper tantrum – we’ve all been there. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my years on this Earth, however, it’s that we tend to transpose our own feelings of insecurity, inferiority, or inadequacy toward others as anger. More often than not, what angers us about others is what we’re most angry about in ourselves. So, let’s take a moment for some self-reflection and see if we can get to the heart of PUBG Corp’s issues with Epic Games and Fortnite.
They Stole Our Idea (And Content.)
Epic is no more guilty of theft than anyone that’s made a tennis game since 1972. Battle Royale is ostensibly a sub-genre of FPS’, and Fortnite capitalised on the popularity generated by PUBG to launch their own game in the same sub-genre, it happens all the time. I would have qualified that with “in this industry,” but it happens everywhere, in every industry. The basis of the lawsuit is that Epic copied PUBG’s items and interface, a hilariously false claim that I’ll get to in a minute, but copying their game outright is the public line that’s being towed. For comparison, this would be like John Carmack and John Romero bringing a case against every studio and publisher that’s put out an FPS game since DOOM because “they copied us!”
Pictured: The grandfathers of the modern FPS and staunch non-suers of those who followed.
To address the actual accusation of IP theft regarding the weapons and interface… What? No, seriously, what? For those not aware, damn-near everything in PUBG is cobbled out of pre-bought Unreal assets. They’ve been modified over time, and it’s all definitely well put together, but they’re still pre-bought assets at their core. By definition, they are not an original work; at best, you could call them a “remix” of whatever it is they were initially. Moreover, the weapons and items all have a basis in reality, with real-world weapon types and medical items featuring in gameplay. (Even if, like all games, they don’t operate 100% accurately compared to their real-life counterparts.) They’re made to look realistic, and give that sense of realism in gaming.
Now, Fortnite has “real” sounding weapons, as well, but the difference here is that everything in Fortnite is an original creation. Which is to say, someone modelled the gun, created the textures, and did it all according to the game’s own art style and creative vision, which was conceived of in-studio. The difference is clear to see and, for the sake of comparison, here are some side-by-side screenshots of similar weapons from both games:
A Tactical Shotgun from Fortnite (left) vs an S12K from PUBG (right).
The Hand Cannon and Pistol from Fortnite (left) vs The six different pistol types in PUBG (right)
The Port-A-Fort from Fortnite (left) vs… Oh.
Oh, hey, that last one doesn’t have an equivalent in PUBG. Neither does the Blueprint and Pencil, or the Guided Missile, or the Mini Gun, or any number of interesting, original ideas that Fortnite has implemented in such a short amount of time. That’s because, again, everything in Fortnite was created by Epic, expressly for the purpose of Fortnite, under a single artistic and creative direction. I won’t even get into the interface/HUD thing because, unless it’s literally being copied and pasted from one game to another, all FPS interfaces will look similar in format. The inclusion of some standard weaponry in one’s game is not enough to say “You’re stealing our IP!”, or Activision would have sued everyone into the ground by now.
“We are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.”
I can absolutely guarantee you that it isn’t, because I’ve played Fortnite and, despite still being in Early Access, Fortnite actually functions reliably. Granted, I’ve not put anywhere near as much time into Fortnite as I have PUBG, so maybe there’s some stuff I’m not seeing. That being said, every time I’ve played Fortnite it has run smoothly, been devoid of major bugs or glitches, and has generally been a joy to play from a technical standpoint. I want to emphasise again that this is all while in Early Access, whereas PUBG has been officially released since December last year and my parachute still gets regularly caught on thin air.
Look to your left. Look to your right. Statistically, both of these buildings will catch your chute, and have no weapons.
Not to mention, Fortnite’s building mechanic legitimately adds a level of strategy to the game that just isn’t present in PUBG. Firefights out in the open quickly turn into firefights in hell mazes, constructed out of wood and panic, with only the most twitchy among us surviving. It’s ludicrous, it’s difficult to master (for me at least), and it’s absolutely core to Fortnite’s gameplay. It’s such a significant difference in gameplay that it could probably stand the game apart from PUBG on its own, let alone literally everything else it has going for itself. This is how the games industry works, and how it needs to be able to work for us to see new, unique games – an idea is put forward, and others will create their own spin on it.
Fortnite also didn’t take features of the game out to support its loot box economy, like PUBG Corp did with cosmetic items found in-game. No longer can I pick up a sweet looking Duster coat alongside my AKM and backpack because they would instead I buy keys for locked loot boxes to get clothing instead. In fact, so desperate are they for more of players’ money that they changed the reward system from loot boxes to the occasional locked loot box, to the current state of exclusively receiving locked loot boxes. At least, the last five that I’ve received have all been locked and, with a drop-rate like that, there’s virtually no difference as far as player experience is concerned. So, since they haven’t actually “copied” PUBG’s assets or ideas, and the experience is functionally different, I guess all I can say is…
Get Your Shit Together, PUBG Corp
No, seriously, this is all on you, PUBG Corp Before Fortnite came along, you had a sweet period where you were getting ridiculous dollars with virtually no competition. Even now, with the rivalry between the two of you, you’re still at #2 and aren’t hurting for money – clearly, since a separate studio was established just for your game. Where are all those funds going? It can’t be into the actual development of your game because it’s only just now, six months after your official release, that you’ve promised to fix the glaring technical problems. With precious little content being introduced, no work being done to refine the art direction and appearance of the game, and little-to-no optimisation, what in God’s name have you been doing up until now?
Very cute, also not useful in the slightest.
Perhaps you were too busy denying that the cheating was such a problem, instead opting to call your player base racists for wanting Chinese players to have a Chinese server. (China being, by a significant margin, the biggest source of cheaters in your game.) You’ve probably just been too busy banning those literally millions of players for cheating to actually listen to your fanbase, or implement some decent anti-cheating measures. I get it though, it’s tough. Work backs up, you have problem players majoritively coming from this one region that’s easily relegated to its own server, some even have to be arrested because they committed serious offences through their cheating. What can you do though – racists, amirite?
You also probably lost a lot of time to create original content when you first accused Fortnite of stealing your ideas late last year, while they were busy making their own original content. Remember that time you said that your game wouldn’t have microtransactions? Then later, when microtransactions were introduced, you said it would be a one-time only thing? Later again, that changed to microtransactions being here to stay, and now their function has become so egregious that it led to you actually removing features? Maybe it was that. And it likely doesn’t help that while PUBG Corp as a company thinks they can own an entire genre, and its creator thinks Fortnite’s a good thing. You know what? I’m sure you’ll work it out.
Oh yeah, I’m sure this will go just fine.
I say all of this out of love for the game, I truly do. I’ve sunk nearly 130 hours into your game, if only because it’s the game of choice for my friends with terrible taste in games, and I really want to see it improve. Contrary to my FPS proclivity, I actually prefer PUBG’s realism over Fortnite’s cartoonish fare. It resonates with me in the same way that the Battle Royale movie did, the way I feel this genre should. But sweet fancy Moses, if this is how they’re acting now over Fortnite, what are they going to do when Red Dead Redemption 2 comes out? Or CoD:BlOps4? Or Battlefield V, or Dying Light, or any of other inevitable FPS Battle Royale games bound for release in the next two years? Right now, PUBG Corp is basically at the top of an emerging, popular sub-genre, and they can stay there if they put the effort in… Or they can continue melting down, trying to sue the competition, neglect their own game, and eventually disappear into obscurity. I’m sure Red Dead will be fun – I mean, I like horsies.
Author’s note: No, seriously. They need to cut that shit out with the parachutes getting caught on nothing while everyone else gets to land. It isn’t funny anymore.