'Battlegrounds' developer threatens 'further action' over new 'Fortnite' mode

On September 26, Epic Games will make the newest mode for its survival shooter Fortnite completely free to all players. The “Battle Royale” mode sees 100 players face off in a fight to the death, with only one winner standing at the end. It bears a striking resemblance to the massively popular PC game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and developer Bluehole, Inc. isn’t too thrilled about that.

“We’ve had an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout [Battlegrounds‘] development as they are the creators of Unreal Engine 4, the engine we licensed for the game,” Bluehole VP and executive producer Chang Han Kim said in a press release. “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 [Battlegrounds] is known.”

Bluehole specifically took issue with Epic Games referencing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in marketing material for Fortnite‘s mode, which the studio wasn’t aware of prior to seeing advertisements itself.

“The [Battlegrounds‘] community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action.”

It will certainly be difficult for Bluehole to prove any “copying” was done in Fortnite‘s Battle Royale, as the basic concept for the mode as well as Battlegrounds is quite vague — “fight to the death” games like The Culling, which force players to scavenge their environment before launching an attack — are already prevalent. While Fortnite‘s mode does replicate the parachuting portion of Battlegrounds, it also features building and highly destructible environments, which aren’t present in Bluehole’s shooter, as well as more fantastical elements.

Right now, the two games aren’t competing for users on consoles, but this will soon change. Battlegrounds is scheduled to hit Xbox One by the end of 2017 as a console exclusive, but the free price tag of Fortnite‘s Battle Royale is hard to pass up. While the game is currently sold at retail in “paid early access,” Epic Games is planning to also make its campaign mode free at some point in 2018.

Fortnite is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is now available on PC.

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