The Korean-based video game developer PUBG Corp., a subsidiary of Bluehole, the company behind battle royale shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, filed a copyright violation lawsuit in January against Epic Games, the American company that makes the more cartoonish battle royale shooter Fortnite.
According to The Korea Times, this injunction -- filed in Seoul Central District Court -- asks a court if PUBG’s copyright had been infringed upon by the similarly styled battle royale game. "We filed the suit to protect our copyright," a PUBG official said.
PUBG was released into early access in March of 2017, selling over 40 million copies online and an additional 4 million on console since that version’s release in December of 2017. Fortnite, seeing a similar scale of player base, was released in July of last year -- but only featured a four-player co-op mode where players shot zombies. It wasn’t until September that a "Battle Royale" mode was released -- a “regrettable” decision by Epic Games, according to Bluehole.
As Epic Games prepares to take their sensation to Korea with Neowiz Games (the two companies signed an agreement in January -- when the lawsuit was filed), PUBG Corp. took action on concerns they’ve had since September.
Those concerns, as Bluehole VP and executive producer Chang Han Kim said, are that even though Bluehole “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, 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."
That Epic has been a Bluehole partner, and that Bluehole licenses an Epic property for their game, may complicate the suit. However, these claims -- that Fortnite’s items, UI, and gameplay experience mimic those of PUBG -- have been gestating since the former’s release, and now the courts will rule (eventually) on their substance.