Korean game developer PUBG Corp., the studio behind popular battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (aka PUBG) is suing the Korean arm of Epic Games, the studio behind the even more obscenely popular Fortnite. In a report from The Korea Times, a PUBG employee is quoted as saying that the developer “filed the suit to protect our copyright in January.” The suit alleges that Epic Games infringed on PUBG Corp’s copyright.
Although this sets up what could be an incredibly meaningful battle between two of the most important studios in the gaming industry at the moment, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Bluehole, PUBG Corp’s parent company, said back in September when Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode launched that it was mulling action.
Without getting too deep into the weeds, PUBG is the brainchild of Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene. In the game, 100 players are dropped onto a desert island with nothing more than the shirts on their backs. They must scavenge for weapons, bandages, and other gear to survive, and the last player standing wins. PUBG was not the first battle royale game, but it was the culmination of years of experimentation from Greene modding other games.
So when Fortnite — a game about building shelters and fending off zombies — suddenly introduced a free-to-play battle royale mode, Bluehole was understandably concerned. Fortnite has since become a genuine phenomenon, attracting millions of players every day and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
To add to the complexity of this case, PUBG actually runs on Unreal Engine 4, which is a suite of development tools made by Epic Games. Just another wrinkle to keep in mind as this fight plays out in the coming months.
Meanwhile, PUBG remains one of the most popular PC games on Earth, but the team behind the game has made it clear that they aren’t afraid to resort to legal action if they feel it necessary. In fact, a mobile developer by the name of NetEase was the subject of a separate lawsuit earlier this year. PUBG Corp. argued that Rules of Survival and Knives Out were both based on PUBG, and demanded $150,000 “per infringed work.”