PUBG Corp., the developer behind Player Unknown's Battle Ground ("PUBG"), has issued proceedings in South Korea to determine whether Epic Games have infringed on copyright in the creation and execution of their hit game Fortnite.
The issues between the two game developers is nuanced, as PUBG runs on the Unreal Engine (a model for first and third person video games that underpins a plethora of games). Epic Games owns the engine, and Fortnite also uses it. When Epic Games launched Fortnite's "Battle Royal" mode in September 2017 (which follows a very similar format to PUBG, PUBG Corp. expressed its concern that Epic Games may withhold updates to the engine to gain a competitive advantage.
So far those fears have been unfounded, but now PUBG Corp. have another complaint: copyright infringement. PUBG Corp. have pointed to items as seemingly trivial as an in-game frying pan to highlight similarities, while also making complaint about the user interface and gameplay models generally.
Player Unknown's Battle Ground's popularity is unquestionably in decline, and this lawsuit could well be a business tactic to attempt to remain relevant in the ever-changing world of eSports and competitive online gaming.
Epic Games recently announced that the 2018/2019 season of the Battle Royale game mode of Fortnite will have a total prize pool of $100m, which could be the final nail in the PUBG coffin. Such a prize pool is enticing the most highly skilled gamers from PUBG to make the switch to Fortnite.
While such prizes are out of reach for the vast majority of the millions who play these games, many recreational players will move games to follow their favourite professional players or streamers, whose gameplay can be watched on YouTube or Twitch.tv.
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