Recently, it was announced that the makers of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds were dropping their now infamous lawsuit against Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite. Prior to Fortnite’s dominance over the Battle Royale genre, PUBG was king; it was the game that streamers were obsessively playing, and the game that people all across the globe were immersing themselves within. Fortnite fever swept up multiple nations, from young adults to children. Now on its fifth season, the free to play game has beat out PUBG in terms of numbers significantly. But would Fortnite have the same success it currently has if it came out before PUBG? But Fortnite, PUBG was making some major waves. It received positive reviews on both its early access and final release. It was considered highly replayable and accessible for those of all skill levels.
It received many a Game of the Year nomination, and won best Multiplayer game at both the Golden Joystick Awards and The Game Awards in 2017. It’s creator, Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ Greene, has publically stated that he considers it to be the defining game of the battle royale genre. And there’s a lot of people out there who would surely agree with him. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds got its start out of Greene’s development of mods, specifically from his ARMA 2 mod Day Z: Battle Royale, an offshoot of the Day Z mod for the game, and inspired by the 2000 Battle Royale film. Finding most multiplayer first person shooters too repetitive, he wanted to create something that had more random aspects in order to make a game more replayable. So he created a vaster map that was harder to memorize, and used randomized item placement. When Day Z became its own standalone title, the interest in his mod declined, but he caught Sony’s attention, who brought him on as a consultant on H1Z1, licensing the battle royale idea from him. Once his contract was up, Bluehole, the South Korean game company that PUBG Corp is a subsidiary of, offered him the job of being the company’s creative director and working on a new battle royale concept.
From there, with the help of a team of 35 developers, which eventually expanded to 70 by June 2017, Battlegrounds was born. Fortnite got its start at an internal game jam at Epic Games after Gears of War 3 was published around 2011. It wasn’t one of the games developed at the game, but the ideas that were present at that jam went on to inspire the main concepts behind Fortnite; the combination between the construction genre (games like Minecraft) and shooter games. It was in the works while the Unreal Engine 3 was switching over to Unreal 4, and it’s development involved the likes of exploring deeper RPG approaches and different art styles, moving away from darker tones and themes, opting out for more colourful cartoonish features. The game, which is now called the Save the World mode, was released for early access in July of 2017. By the time Fortnite had been released, PUBG had become a worldwide success, with over 5 million copies sold within the first three months of its release.
Seeing that they could use the Save the World mode as a foundation, two months later, Epic put together its own Battle Royale mode, releasing it in September of 2017. The game became a free-to-play with microtransactions, and soon had over 10 million players playing the game within its first two weeks of being released. Let’s jump back to that lawsuit for a second. Back when Fortnite’s battle royale mode was announced, things were a little complicated between PUBG Corp and Epic Games. For starters, PUBG is based on Epic’s Unreal Engine. Second, when Fortnite made its PvP mode, they openly stated in September of 2017, I quote, “Yeah we made a PvP mode for Fortnite.
We love Battle Royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version.” After that remark was made, rumours began swirling around about PUBG Corp considering a lawsuit, and director Brendan Greene even noted that he wasn’t happy with the statement that Epic made. From there, it only got worse for PUBG, as Fortnite overtook the game not only in popularity, but it also converted many of the game’s more popular streamers, like Ninja.
Shortly after the release of Fortnite, Bluehole’s Vice President Chang Han Kim also noted, “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.” They also publically expressed concerns about Fortnite, saying that while they can’t claim ownership of the battle royale genre, they feared that since they had been working with Epic games for technical support with their Unreal Engine, they may have been aware of features that PUBG was planning on bringing to their game, therefore beating PUBG to it with their Fortnite battle royale. With that in mind, another argument is that Fortnite and its battle Royale mode would still exist, but it would be a different game in some respects. While it’s tone and aesthetic is very much of its own, aspects of the game are ‘borrowed’ ideas from PUBG.
There’s quite a few. When you enter the ‘arena’ , players populate a lobby until the game begins, allowing them to run around the map without fear of being killed off. Both require players to rely on looting to survive, although Fortnite’s approach is a much more accessible one, in both how the loot appears, and the colour system it uses to immediately show players what kind of power level the weapon they’re looking at is. And the maps, conceptually, are similar, both marked and named with different areas that diversify the playable terrain. In addition to this, you could also argue that the failings of PUBG were fodder for what Fortnite has improved upon. For starters, the game is updated at a much quicker rate than PUBG.
Secondly, Epic Games seems to have taken much consideration in maintaining support across all platforms for the game. They also introduced the game for mobile; something that PUBG copied a short while after Fortnite’s iOS release. Then, PUBG Corp launched the lawsuit in South Korea over concerns that the Fortnite Battle Royale mode infringed upon their intellectual property, and that it was replicating the experience for which PUBG is known. They called the lawsuit, “a measure to protect our copyrights.” That lawsuit has since been closed by PUBG as of June 2018 for undisclosed reasons. That being said, there were other predecessors to Fortnite aside from PUBG. H1Z1 had also debuted prior to Fortnite’s Battle Royale, and a slew of other Battle Royale games were starting to make their way online.
While Greene is partially responsible for introducing the battle royale genre to the mainstream, if Bluehole hadn’t brought him on board, PUBG wouldn’t exist, but H1Z1 still would, along with many others that followed it. So if we look at it this way, it was just a matter of time before Epic Games decided to add the Battle Royale mode. It also won’t be the last. Games the likes of Realm Royale are constantly popping up, with each new entry into the genre attempting to offer a new and unique battle royale experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Say what you will about Fortnite, but at the end of the day, it seems like even without the success of PUBG, Epic Games would have jumped on the battle royale bandwagon when another game in the genre became a hit.
The only argument against that is if no other battle royale game achieved the same height of success as PUBG, perhaps Fortnite would have fizzled out at its original player versus the environment singular game mode days. Plus, the cartoony style and the humour that Fortnite encapsulates is one of the reasons why the game is so successful; those were aspects the game harboured prior to becoming a Battle Royale game. So all in all, if Fortnite came out before PUBG, it would probably be the same kind of game that it is today. Perhaps there would be a few subtle differences, things that were inspired by PUBG, but overall, it wouldn’t be all that different. .
As found on Youtube