PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' publisher Bluehole is unhappy that Epic Games is rolling out a battle royale mode for its own Fortnite game and says it is contemplating "further action" for "replicating the experience for which PUBG is known."
“We’ve had an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout PUBG’s development as they are the creators of (Unreal Engine 4), the engine we licensed for the game,” Chang Han Kim, Bluehole’s vice president, said in a prepared statement. “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. The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action."
Glixel has reached out to Bluehole to ask what further action might be contemplated. Perhaps complicating the issue is that Battlegrounds is built using Epic's game engine, Unreal. Typical licensing deals for the engine in recent years has Epic getting a set percentage of sales.
The statement from Bluehole came to press in an email that described it as a response to "community concern surrounding Fortnite's Battle Royale Mode."
In the email, Kim says that the development team for Battlegrounds has concerns around Fortnite's user interface, gameplay and structural replication in the battle royale mode.
Battlegrounds is not the first game to feature a last-man-standing, battle royale mode, though it is the most successful to build the entire game around that singular mode. Other such games include titles released both before and after PUBG, such as The Culling, a mode in H1Z1, Ark: Survival of the Fittest, and Last Man Standing.
Kim notes that Battlegrounds developer Brendan Greene addressed questions about other companies replicating the experience, while in a recent ask me anything session on Reddit.
"Other companies will, of course, enter the marketplace, but I would just hope they put their own spin on the game mode and not just make a carbon copy!” he wrote at the time.
Update: Epic games declined to comment on the licensing deal it has with Bluehole or Bluehole's comments about Fortnite.