If you follow the gaming industry at all, you are probably aware of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS unprecedented success on Steam (and soon to be moved into console land as well). This 100 player battle royale has taken the gaming world by storm. Boasting a record breaking 1,462,708 concurrent players at the very moment of this writing only confirms what we already know: PUBG has surpassed everybody’s wildest imaginings.
Of course, success never comes without controversy. Currently, PUBG is getting slammed in it’s review section for banning players who kill or otherwise interrupt streamers in game. This is cause for concern of course as it is widely believed that streamers are being given unfair advantages or rights due to the fact that they realistically boosted the success of PUBG to unparalleled heights. PlayerUnknown himself, one of the creators of H1Z1’s King of the Hill battle royale and co-creator with Bluehole of PUBG, has also been slammed for stating there would be no micro-transactions in the game, only to follow up with the creation of loot crates, which are micro-transactions used to subsidize some of the development cost (although with 1.5 million concurrent users, it’s hard to argue in favor of this act).
However, that isn’t why I am writing this particular article. Rather, I am here today to discuss the advent of salt between the creators of H1Z1 (of which PlayerUnknown himself was a member) and PUBG, and then the salt between PUBG and Epic Games, who recently made added their own battle royale mode to Fortnite. Where PlayerUnknown was one of the masterminds behind H1Z1’s battle royale mode, Epic Games actually created the game engine being used by Bluehole for PUBG. So, there seems to be a lot of in fighting amongst people who have worked together and in theory should be supporting one another.
H1Z1 vs PUBG
As was first reported on IGN, when DH1Z1’s developer Daybreak was asked about the success of PUBG, he (Game Manager Anthony Castoro) responded by saying “there wouldn’t be a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds if there wasn’t an H1Z1.” and following up with “[PUBG] is a clear fast follow opportunity: take an existing game engine, find someone who has worked on this kind of idea that established it already, and do a decent job with the game, and guess what? [The battle royale mode] really is fun and exciting and engaging. So, from a business perspective, that’s just a fast follow scenario.”
Mr Castoro went on to state that Daybreak brought Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene on due to Mr Greene’s success with his Arma 2 battle royale mod and that Daybreak mentored PlayerUnknown as PU had no previous commercial experience, having only worked on mods previous to that. However, Mr castoro did acknoledge that PUBG’s success brought more attention to the genre and has allowed H1Z1 to be more successful as well, although he did qualify that by stating that H1Z1 would have seen that success anyway.
PUBG vs Epic Games/Fortnite
As we reported here previously, Epic Games decided to add a battle royale mode to Fortnite, specifically because of how much they enjoyed and wanted to emulate the PUBG experience. In fact, that particular mode is now free to play for everybody and features 100 player battle royale. Apparently, Bluehole has taken exception to this emulation and also to Epic Games mention of PUBG in their advertising of Fortnite’s new mode.
Reverb, Inc., who handles PR for Bluehole and PUBG, sent me a press release this morning detailing Bluehole’s concerns:
BLUEHOLE INC. – CREATORS OFPLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS –RESPONDS TO COMMUNITY CONCERN SURROUNDING FORTNITE’S BATTLE ROYALE MODE
Bluehole, Inc., developers of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG), the first standalone Battle Royale survival shooter game, responded today to growing concerns regarding the similarities between the battle royale mode in Epic Games’ newly revealed Fortnite and PUBG.
“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 Chang Han Kim, Vice President and Executive Producer for Bluehole, Inc. “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.”
The development team for PUBG has no relationship to Fortnite’s development as concerns around User Interface (UI), gameplay and structural replication in the battle royale mode exist.
“We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press,” Chang Han Kim continues. “This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.”
With its release on March 23, 2017, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is a last man standing shooter that drops players on a realistic 8 x 8 km island where they start with nothing in an ever diminishing field of play. Gamers must fight to locate weapons, vehicles and supplies as they strive to be the lone survivor.
In a recent Reddit AMA (e.g. Ask Me Anything) session, Brendan Greene (aka PLAYERUKNOWN) was asked about other companies replicating the Battle Royale experience:
“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!”
Chang Han Kim closed, “The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action.”
There seems to be a lot of salt being sprinkled over everything right now as it pertains to the Battle Royale sub genre of games. In my occupation as an Executive Chef, I learned very quickly that competition brings innovation and forces you to try to be the best you can be. It also teaches you to appreciate the competition, acknowledge it, and indeed earn and receive the respect of your contemporaries, whether they are competing against you or not. Everybody benefits from said competition. It is no different in the gaming industry. While PUBG’s success is unarguably unprecedented, that success also paves the way for other established game developers to improve their own similar products and create a better experience for their fans as well. By my mind, everybody wins. However, it does seem like not everybody agrees….