The company behind the biggest game in the world, “Fortnite,” is being taken to court by the studio responsible for the second-biggest game in the world, “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” also known as “PUBG.”
Stranger still: The two companies involved share a mutual investor, the Chinese holding company Tencent.
Bluehole, the South Korean company behind “PUBG,” has filed a suit claiming that the US-based Epic Games is infringing on its copyright with “Fortnite.” Bluehole intends to enforce its claim by suing Epic Games in South Korea, Bloomberg reported on Monday night.
This isn’t the first time Bluehole has claimed Epic’s “Fortnite” is copying “PUBG.” Soon after “Fortnite” added its battle-royale mode in September, the Bluehole vice president and executive producer Chang Han Kim made his company’s feelings about it clear.
“We are concerned that ‘Fortnite’ may be replicating the experience for which ‘PUBG’ is known,” Kim said in a press release. It’s also not the first time Bluehole has taken legal action to protect its battle-royale concept.
Here’s a brief history of the ongoing battle over battle royale:
First, what is “PUBG”?
You’re jammed in a crappy plane with 100 other people, flying above an abandoned ex-Soviet island. You can jump whenever you want, knowing that as you plummet to the ground, 99 other people are plotting your imminent death. Of course, you’re plotting theirs as well, just as soon as you can get your hands on a weapon.
Thankfully, though the island is uninhabited aside from you and the enemy players, its abandoned buildings — houses, hospitals, gas stations, etc. — are packed with P9s, AKs, and plenty of body armor.
As you scramble to put together a small arsenal and supplies for survival, you’re also contending with the other 99 people doing the same thing. Sometimes those folks want to fight. Sometimes they’re unarmed and just as terrified of you as you are of them.
Every interaction with another player in “PUBG” is a gamble, which is why it’s so excellent.
“PUBG,” a breakout hit, was the hottest game of 2017 by far and is an ongoing moneymaker.
It’s hard to know exactly how much money “PUBG” has made, but we do know it’s significant. On the PC’s wildly popular Steam service, where it first launched as an unfinished “Early Access” game for $30, “PUBG” is the third-highest grossing game of all time.
The latest sales numbers put “PUBG” somewhere in the realm of 30 million lifetime sales on PC alone. That’s just shy of $1 billion in gross revenue in a single year.
That doesn’t take into account the mobile version of the game — “PUBG” is available on both iPhone and Android, unlike “Fortnite” — nor does it account for sales on the Xbox One (which have been similarly brisk).
It continues to be the most played game on Steam on a regular basis. Nearly 1.5 million people were playing it at the same time on Tuesday.
So, what is “Fortnite”?
“Fortnite” is a third-person shooter that is also focused on survival gameplay. You, or you and a group of friends, take on hordes of enemies from the tentative safety of a fort you’ve crafted. It’s available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac (there’s also a version for iOS, which is coming to Android this summer).
There’s a cartoony art style to “Fortnite,” which tonally fits in alongside the game’s goofy dialogue; there’s a playful tone about everything in “Fortnite,” which is starkly different from the dreary, dire tone of “PUBG.” Moreover, the core of “Fortnite” is very different from “PUBG” — it’s essentially a “tower defense” game.
In “Fortnite,” like other tower-defense games, you’re defending an immobile thing from waves of enemies. You have a period of time before the attack begins, when you’re able to set up defenses (turrets, traps, walls, etc.). Once you trigger the battle, you must defend whatever that aforementioned thing is from being attacked. If you survive those waves, you’ve succeeded.
This isn’t the stuff that Bluehole takes issue with.