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‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ creator has some thoughts on copycat games

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS Xbox Game Preview launch trailer
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is one of the most popular games in the world right now, and like almost everything popular, it has spawned its fair share of copycat games. Though imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, creator Brendan Greene believes other developers aren’t doing enough to separate their own games from his.

Speaking to BBC’s Radio 1 Gaming Show, Greene expressed his hope that the genre will continue to grow with unique games.

“For that to happen, you need new and interesting spins on the game mode,” Greene said. “If it’s just copycats down the line, then the genre doesn’t grow and people get bored.”

Greene’s comments are almost certainly in reference to Epic Games’ Fortnite. The game’s main mode is a spin on the classic tower-defense genre, but following the success of Battlegrounds, the game added a “Battle Royale” mode with several similarities to Greene’s game.

“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,” said Battlegrounds studio Bluehold VP Chang Han Kim back in September. “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.

Greene added in the interview that “there’s no intellectual property protection in games” like there is in film and music, but the historical record doesn’t really support that statement. Market participants can be highly litigious when it comes to game trademarks and intellectual property, often to a fault. In 2011, Minecraft studio Mojang was sued by Bethesda for its game Scrolls, due to the title of the Elder Scrolls series. Similarly, Blizzard sued a Chinese Overwatch clone for mobile back in October.

Greene’s language is odd considering that Bluehole uses the tagline, “This is battle royale” to promote PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. This term was previously used for the novel and film Battle Royale, released more than 15 years ago. As with the film, Greene’s game follows several people who must kill their opponents in a massive free-for-all.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds officially leaves Early Access for PC players on December 20. The game is available on Xbox One’s Game Preview program right now.

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Gabe Gurwin
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