What is PUBG?

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. The game is based on previous mods that were created by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene for other games using the film Battle Royale for inspiration, and expanded into a standalone game under Greene’s creative direction. In the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed themselves. The available safe area of the game’s map decreases in size over time, directing surviving players into tighter areas to force encounters. The last player or team standing wins the round.[1]

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite (also known as Fortnite: Save the World) is a co-op sandbox survival game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly and published by Epic Games. Fortnite is set in contemporary Earth, where the sudden appearance of a worldwide storm causes 98% of the world’s population to disappear, and zombie-like creatures rise to attack the remainder.  Fortnite has up to four players cooperating on various missions on randomly-generated maps to collect resources, build fortifications around defensive objectives that are meant to help fight the storm and protect survivors, and construct weapons and traps to engage in combat with waves of these creatures that attempt to destroy the objectives. Players gain rewards through these missions to improve their hero characters, support teams, and arsenal of weapon and trap schematics to be able to take on more difficult missions. [2]

What is the ‘Game-fight about’?

copyright lawsuit was filed by Bluehole subsidiary PUBG Corp.against Fortnite in January. PUBG announced that there was an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout PUBG’s development as they are the creators of Unreal Engine 4, the engine they had  licensed for the game and they were concerned after hearing from the community that ‘Fortnite’ may be replicating the experience for which ‘PUBG’ is known. The Bluehole leveled a warning against Epic games and told that they were considering “further action” against Epic to protect its interests. [3] The question here (and in PUBG Corporation’s lawsuit) revolves on Greene’s perspective that “Fortnite” doesn’t come up with a new gaming experience but, is instead, a “copycat.

The main reason which can be spotted behind the filing of copyright suit by PUBG against Fortnite is that while “PUBG” popularized the current battle royale genre first, it now finds itself in “Fortnite’s” considerably larger shadow. “PUBG” has reportedly sold over 30 million copies since launch, but its player base on PC is dropping. Meanwhile, “Fortnite” is currently the largest free-to-play console game of all time, and it’s dominating PC and mobile as well. It made five times “PUBG Mobile’s” first week revenue on iOS, according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower. It’s also currently the most-watched game on Twitch and YouTube.

What does Federal Law states?

Under the US law, Genres are not copyrightable. Those same copyright laws have allowed multiple games from different developers and publishers to include “capture the flag” modes, jumping on enemy heads to defeat them, and even aiming down the sights of guns. United States intellectual property protections are extended to expression of ideas, rather than ideas themselves. Sound and art assets can’t be copied, but concepts like driving a vehicle are fair game for replication and iteration. [4] According to US Federal laws, the ideas are not copyrightable but expression of that idea is copyrightable. If someone creates a video game, it should be of his own creation and not just a duplicate of someone else’s work. He should apply his own mind and creativity to create the graphics of the game. Suppose one is creating a game on ghost hunting, it should be taken care that the idea can be same but it should not replicate any other ghost hunting games. For example, if a video game has a princess and she looks like Princess Toadstool, that could be in violation of Nintendo’s copyright (unless the game obtained a license or had a good fair use reason to use the character). If the princess is of someone’s own creation, then it will be fine. Similarly, certain artwork in video games falls under the doctrine of ‘scenes a faire’. This references particular artwork and elements of a video game that are necessary to execute a particular idea and are NOT copyrightable. That includes things like the scoring system, the lives, the coins, and the sky/ground. Scenes a faire also applies to certain genres of games. For example, if there is a golfing game, that would include certain design elements like holes, golf balls, golf clubs, golfers, grass, trees, and water. While one can’t copy these elements directly from another golfing game, one has the right to include such elements in the game otherwise no one else could create a golfing game.[5]

Finally..the recent relief

After continuing the lawsuit for some moths, in recent date it has come to notice that in June, the lawsuit against the creator of hit online game Fortnite has been quietly dropped. PUGB Corp has not released a statement regarding its decision, and it is not yet clear whether a settlement has been reached out of court. The move has surprised lawyers with knowledge of the gaming sector. One possibility is that the action drew derision within an industry that relies heavily on the exploitation of genres. Fortnite does not use similar graphics or audio assets to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, its cartoon look contrasting with the latter’s realistic, militarised visuals, so the suit appeared to be an attempt to ringfence and monopolise the Battle Royale play style. But according the players of these games, it is a relief as this matter has now been closed, at least in court.[6]


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