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Bluehole vs. Epic: Unprofessional & Paranoid

I refrained from commenting (Twitter snark doesn't count) on this issue because I find the entire thing asinine, but since it continues and I needed a topic for today, let's do this.

Bluehole (PUBG Devs) released a press release -- yes, I got an actual email to my press email account -- stating the following:

“We’ve 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,” said Chang Han Kim, Vice President and Executive Producer for Bluehole, Inc. “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.”

“Other companies will, of course, enter the marketplace, but I would just hope they put their own spin on the game mode and not just make a carbon copy!”

Couple of things.

Willy Wonka Unique Idea Meme

I find it a little ridiculous to publish a press release calling someone out for copying your game (especially when your game is a Battle Royale clone itself).

This is the video game industry. Just spend 10 minutes looking at the RPG, Shooter, FPS, and RTS genres. Seriously.

What was PUBG's "own spin" that made it more unique? Does Fortnite's building mechanic not count?

Now we have an interview with PC Gamer that C.H. Kim did with PC Gamer where Bluehole takes a different approach.

C.H. Kim: So the first thing that I’d like to clarify is that this is not about the battle royale game mode itself. There were other BR gamemodes earlier this year that were released, like last man standing or GTA 5’s battle royale game mode, and we never raised an issue, and I think it’s great that there’s more competition and everyone should be able to create their own battle royale game mode, and it’s not about the idea itself, it’s about Epic Games, and that wasn’t really clear [in the press release].

Willy Wonka Smarmy Grin

Uhh huhhh, sure. It gets better, too. 

“We’re going to get some technical support [from Epic], and we’re going to work with them to make sure Unreal Engine better supports battle royale gameplay which requires 100 people in one session, and now we’re starting to have concerns that they’re going to develop new features or improve something in the engine to support that battle royale gameplay, and then use it for their own game mode.” […]

“We could be afraid when we make new features in the engine by modifying it internally, that is not already available and public, that feature could be leaked, or other things could happen.”

Do you REALLY believe that Epic, one of the biggest engine licencors in the entire business, would do that? REALLY?

Epic has been licensing their engine for so long, making plenty of  titles that compete with their customers, and I have never heard of any reports of them ever saying, "Ohhh look they made tweaks to the engine let's leak it to the world or use it to make our game better just to put them under."

Why would Epic sabotage their core business model to act in any way that would violate their contractual agreement with a company licensing their engine?

I'm not a lawyer, but if I were one at Epic I would be chomping at the bit right now. This feels dangerously close to slander for overtly implying that Epic would use its license agreements to ruin other companies. Again, it's damaging to Epic's core business model.

Bluehole is paranoid, delusional, and behaving so unprofessional. They're digging themselves into a hole and opening the door for issues that would have never existed. Their fans could have done all the defending for them.

PUBG is a fantastic game. They did a great job. It has quality issues, and a whole lot of jank, but the game is good.

Fortnite (PvE) is absolute crap. I found it lacking in fun, and full of tedium. Their Battle Royale PvP mode is much more fun, and they openly admit to be inspired by PUBG. I played it, and found it very much a Battle Royale / PUBG clone. Will it in any way pull from PUBG? I can't see any reason why.

  • Bluehole are clearly too “green” in this matter…they didn’t handle the situation very well, but they have a good case. Nothing would have happened if Epic didn’t use the PUBG name and trademark to promote their new game. If you read everything Bluehole has mentioned, everything starts from there.

    • While it sucks that Epic dropped the PUBG name in such a big way (I think they could have done it more tactfully than a trailer), it’s definitely not the first time a company has benefitted from a comparison. There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of examples of companies in just the video game industry saying how much they were inspired by another game. They then use those similarities to attract players. They should have been more subtle, though.

  • While I think Bluehole has solid ground to comment, the fact is Fortnite shouldn’t even be on their radar. They have the most successful game of the year by a mile, while Fortnite flopped hard. Why even give them the attention? Fortnite could copy/paste 99% of PUBG, and that 1% would still mean it’s not going to challenge PUBG for players. Just a bad mis-read of the situation by them, and clearly a big win for Fortnite due to the attention.

    • Agreed that Fortnite is benefiting in a huge way from it. Had Bluehole said nothing, Fortnite would have been seen as nothing more than an attempt to save a flopped game. Make no mistake, it still is, but now it has a million more people looking at it to make that call.