A report from Bloomberg published on June 27th, 2018 indicates that PUBG Corporation’s lawsuit against Epic Games on the grounds of copyright infringement for the free-to-play Battle Royale game Fortnite, has been dropped. The reasons for the lawsuit being dropped were not named, and whether there was a settlement reached was not disclosed.
The only thing that Bloomberg is reporting is that the confirmation of the lawsuit being dropped was corroborated by the Seoul district judiciary website, and by PUBG Corporation. The plaintiffs, however, had no comment to add at the time their story was published.
The lawsuit – to anyone who was tracking it – looked frivolous from the outset. PUBG Corporation, the makers of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, had sued Epic Games’ Seoul branch in South Korea on the grounds of copyright infringement and for using content from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds for the Battle Royale mode of Fortnite.
Prima facie most people might assume there would be a case there given that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds did release as a standalone Battle Royale survival game back in early 2017, where-as the Battle Royale mode for Fortnite didn’t arrive until September, 2017.
However, the devil is in the details.
Both games are running on the Unreal Engine 4, which was originally introduced as a licensed toolset back in 2014.
However, Fortnite preceded the public availability of the Unreal Engine 4, since it was in development since 2011 and was the first game built on the Unreal Engine 4, as reported by PC Gamer. In fact, a lot of Fortnite’s DNA is part of the base design of the Unreal Engine 4, and both the game and the engine were designed in unison leading up to new releases of the Unreal Engine 4 and the initial release of Fortnite in July of 2017. YouTuber Cussan even did a video chronicling the game’s development over the last seven years.
It’s similar to how every game running on the Unreal Engine 3 has a little bit of Gears of War in its DNA, since the original game was the inaugural debut of the Unreal Engine 3, and Epic had designed the code base of the Unreal Engine 3 with Gears of War at its core.
So why is this significant? Because PUBG Corporation claiming that Epic Games lifted design mechanisms from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds to use in Fortnite is not entirely correct. Technically, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is built on top of a code base within the Unreal Engine 4 that has its roots in Fortnite. So how could Epic steal something from PUBG Corporation when PUBG Corporation was using Epic’s engine, Epic’s code base, and Epic’s technology the entire time?
Unless PUBG Corporation built some kind of proprietary code base for the Unreal Engine 4, it’s kind of hard to see how Epic stole something from a company that was already using an engine, code, and optimizations that they originally built. In addition to this, Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode is just that… a mode. The core game was already in development six years prior. The only thing Epic did was add a mode to an already playable game.
Worse yet is that any claims of asset infringement falls flat given that Fortnite was built from the ground up, where-as many of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds assets were apparently acquired from stock assets, as revealed by creative director Brendan Greene during the female camel toe fiasco.
And none of that is to mention that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds isn’t even the first Battle Royale game on the market. H1Z1 and The Culling preceded PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds concept by more than a year. If anything, maybe those studios could sue PUBG Corporation for lifting ideas from their games.
Either way, the lawsuit is now over with, and Epic Games can get back to making money hand over fist with Fortnite’s highly popular Battle Royale mode.
(Main image courtesy of Lara Croft)