Copies of games come out all the time, but with the recent announcement of Fortnite Battle Royale launching next week, well ahead of its direct rival, is this a strategy that has gotten out of hand?
Fortnite is a survival crafting game from developer Epic that recently went into Early Access. It’s a new take that has made some strides since launching, but it still has a long way to go before getting a full launch. It is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC and has 4 different versions, its cheapest being $39.99. Price aside, the fact it has only been on the market as an Early Access for a mere 2 months, and they are already releasing a spin-off game with Fortnite Battle Royale seems a little odd. They recently announced they will be making a spinoff called ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’ which the developer admits is directly inspired by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
The recently announced mode is being developed by a separate team, which should stem some complaints that they should just focus on the main game. It is, however, directly inspired by games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which the developer mentions by name. It is a 100 player PVP mode where players are dropped into the open world of Fortnite with nothing but a glider and a pickaxe. They must scour the fully destructible environments for weapons and materials to make their weapons and armor as well as construct their defenses.
It’s similar enough to games like DayZ, H1Z1, and especially PUBG in the sense that players spawn in together and must fend for themselves down to the last man. So the question that everyone may be asking is; is it a direct copy? And if so, is something like this okay?
Well, it’s not exactly an uncommon practice for other developers to be inspired by other games and include similar features to their favorite games. This one, however, is slightly different.
First, the engine both games run on is none other than Epic’s own Unreal Engine 4, which can cause some issues. The developer has addressed that they have worked with Epic in an “ongoing relationship” throughout the development on PUBG due to the engine the game is built on. So it’s likely that Epic would have some idea as to what BlueHole was making… not to mention that PUBG has been in Early Access on PC for quite some time already.
Just take a look at the trailer for Fortnite Battle Royal to see the similarities as an example;
The second thing about all this is that with PUBG looking to launch on Xbox One sometime later this year. Yet, in the wake of the epic success that is PUBG, Epic Games announce their incredibly similar game, and launch it within 2 weeks of said announcement. This is all on top of the fact that it is being launched before the Xbox One version, and for free.
Is this an intentional stunt to not only grab some of their potential sales, but undermine the competition as well? BlueHole seems to think so. In a press release early this morning, Bluehole vice president Chang Han Kim had this to say:
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.
So clearly he thinks it’s a blatant copy. He added:
We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press. This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.
Which is not a standard practice within the industry among bigger developers. They tend to let their games speak for themselves, and/or let the press make the comparisons instead of calling out games they think their game is like. Does this make it nefarious? I personally don’t think so.
He finished his statement by saying that his company plan to “contemplate further action.” Will they do anything, and do they even have any grounds? I’d say probably not. Let me explain.
As I said above, games taking inspiration from other successful games is in no way a new practice. It’s how ALL works these days come to life, regardless of medium, even if the inspiration is intentional, or even known. Epic Games simply liked the idea of a Battle Royal game, and thought that it would be a good fit for the foundation that Fortnite has provided them.
The genre is in no way a new one, nor is PUBG unique in the sense that it’s the first game to toss a mass number of players into the same server to battle head to head. It’s simply just the most successful one. Ark: Survival Evolved released a standalone spinoff in much the same way Epic is doing with Fortnite called “Survival of the Fittest” almost a year before PUBG launched, and they’re incredibly similar games.
Fortnite also has the unique addition of crafting that PUBG lacks. So not only is it a Battle Royal game, but it is also a crafting game as well that allows players to construct entirely new buildings and defenses to ward off other players. From weapons to traps and the aforementioned structures, so it keeps what differentiates Fortnite from other games, while taking the premise and combining the two.
The only thing I can see that BlueHole may have against Epic is the partnership they have (had?) due to the engine being used for PUBG. I won’t say I know enough to be certain, but it’s entirely possible that Epic had some behind the scenes information on the game, and was able to use it to their advantage with Fortnite Battle Royale. If not, than Epic is simply capitalizing on a popular game/genre with their own and adding their own spin. Sure, they’re doing it a bit unconventionally and seemingly unprofessionally… but all is fair in love and war… and capitalism.
It’s just the nature of the beast. If you create something that everyone loves (and I’d say 10 million units sold in less than 6 months is pretty successful), than you can expect to be copied. It’s how the world works. Deal with it, make yourself the better product and show people why yours is better. If not, fail to the competition.
Will we see anything negative come out of this whole situation? Doubtful. My guess is that neither game will see a negative impact because of the other, and worst case Epic will pay BlueHole some likely undisclosed amount for “damages.” Although I don’t expect it.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.