'PUBG' Executive Not Happy Over Epic Games' 'Fortnite Battle Royale' Similarities

The runaway success of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds from Bluehole has inevitably led to the Battle Royale concept being copied by other development studios. The most recent is Epic Games adding a mode called Battle Royale to Fortnite, with plans to make it a free standalone for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC next week. The PUBG developer released a statement expressing concern over the similarities between the games and Epic's unique position in the gaming industry.

"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 in a statement picked up by GamesIndustry.biz. "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. This was never discussed with us and we don't feel that it's right," Chang added.

The VP closed by stating, "The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action."

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is, of course, not the first Battle Royale game to have been released. Brendan Greene (aka PlayerUnknown) first introduced the concept as an ArmA 2 mod and later as a spinoff of the Day Z mod. This led to him working on H1Z1: Just Survive before venturing out on his own to team up with Bluehole on PUBG. Other titles include the smaller scale The Culling, which was released to PC before PUBG and hit the PS4 and Xbox One earlier this year.

Green recently stated in a Reddit AMA session that he expects competitors to enter the marketplace.

However, he said, "I would just hope they put their own spin on the game-mode and not just make a carbon copy!"

What are the similarities?

A sniper takes aim in Fortnite.
[Image by Epic Games]

This brings to question the similarities between PUBG and Fortnite Battle Royale. Both games feature a 100-player last-man-standing PVP mode on a large map. Both start players out on a small island to goof around on before being whisked onto a plane, or a flying "Battle Bus" in Fortnite's case, where they parachute down to their preferred location.

The match in both PUBG and Fortnite Battle Royale turns into a scramble to find weapons and items to help a player survive. Meanwhile, a giant circle of death closes in on the match to effectively shrink the arena and force players to come together.

What are the differences?

Fortnite Battle Royale is quickly going free to play.
[Image by Epic Games]

The major difference is what Fortnite Battle Royale brings over from main PvE game it was originally developed as. Players start with a pickaxe to allow them to gather resources to build structures and traps during a match. The building mechanics can be utilized to create a base, quick cover in the middle of a firefight, or platform to reach hard-to-reach places.

Aside from a cartoonish look for Fortnite Battle Royale, smaller differences include what Epic Games has not yet put in its titles that are part of PUBG. This primarily consists of drivable vehicles plus the ability to go prone.

Fortnite Battle Royale does have some other unique conventions that PUBG does have. Weapon and ammo pickups are colored by their rarity, and there is a spectator mode after you are killed that follows your killer then their killer, and so forth.

Does Bluehole have a point?

A player firing out of a window in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG).
[Image by Bluehole, Inc./Microsoft]

It's hard to argue that Fortnite Battle Royale does not closely resemble PUBG, just with a different style and some building mechanics. That isn't very uncommon in the gaming industry as success inevitably breeds copycats.

Bluehole is obviously concerned for two reasons. The first is Epic Games has a unique place in the industry where it licenses one of the most widely used game engines available. Contact between the two companies could inevitably give insight to Epic that another developer would not normally obtain.

The second concern for Bluehole is how quickly Epic Games is putting Fortnite Battle Royale out on consoles and for free. Epic has a huge advantage over Bluehole when it comes to developing for the PS4 and Xbox One. PUBG is not due out on the Xbox One until later this year, and that is with a publishing partnership with Microsoft that gives the studio much-needed help with porting the game to console. Meanwhile, the PS4 version does not even have a release date yet.

There is a pent-up demand for a Battle Royale game on consoles, and Epic Games may have spoiled Bluehole's coming-out party.

[Featured Image by Bluehole]