Brendan Greene, creator of this year's smash success PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, is calling for better IP protection in the game industry. Since the success of Battlegrounds, numerous copycat games have popped up, including the highly-successful Fortnite Battle Royale.
Speaking to Radio 1's Gaming Show (via GamesIndustry.biz), Greene compares the game industry to other creative industries, saying the former has little in the way to protect IPs from copycats.
"In movies and music, there is IP protection and you can really look after your work," Greene said. "In gaming that doesn't exist yet, and it's something that should be looked into."
"Some amazing games pass under the radar," he continued. "Then someone else takes the idea, has a marketing budget, and suddenly has a popular game because they ripped off someone else's idea. I think it's something the industry needs to look into.
"You're protecting the work of artists basically. Games are art for a large part, and so I think it's important they're protected."
Since its March release on PC, Battlegrounds has gone on to be Steam's most-played game, accruing more than 1,300,000 concurrent players at its peak. The success of the game's proliferated the battle royale genre, something Greene says he wants – but only if new games in the genre bring new ideas.
"I want this genre of games to grow," Greene said. "For that to happen you need new and interesting spins on the game mode. If it's just copycats down the line, then the genre doesn't grow and people get bored."
It's worth pointing out, Greene's successful game is very similar in premise to the Japanese 2000 film Battle Royale, where 42 school-age children are sent to a deserted island to fight to the death until one student remains. Greene's talked in the past about the similarities between his game and the movie.
To get a better idea of how genres and mechanics can be protected by IP laws, we contacted Michael Lee, founding partner at law firm Morrison & Lee LLP who specializes in video games and law, who we spoke to in the past about DMCA laws.
"The crux of the entire debate about protectable gameplay comes down to the way that copyright law protects games," Lee told Glixel. "In essence, copyright law protects the expression of an idea, but not an idea itself. In games, the expression of an idea is generally viewed as some end result of an asset and/or code in a game, like the way an AUG A3 in PUBG is modeled or skinned. It also protects the very specific expression of source computer code that makes up PUBG itself. However, since copyright does not protect ideas but only their expression, copyright is an ineffective tool to keep other people from making, say, their own battle royale style game with their own unique AUGs as weapons."
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds released on Xbox One in early access on December 12th. It's set to leave early access on PC, releasing in-full on December 20th.