PUBG and Fortnite's argument raises the question: Can you own a genre?

"There is something disingenuous about a company taking the work of one of its licensors and turning it into a spin-off for its newest, biggest franchise. No doubt, there is a team of lawyers working on behalf of Bluehole, turning over rocks to see if there’s any way to punish Epic for making its own version of Battlegrounds. If there weren’t, then why send out a press release like the one we’re looking at today?

"But it was also a bad look for Brendan Greene to make the same game over again. In reality, Battlegrounds is his third attempt."

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Liqu1d63d ago

No and they're mad if they think have any legal high ground. Pubg didn't invent the genre and others are free to develop their own Battle Royale games/modes.

Seems they're either getting very arrogant or they feel threatened. They should focus on finishing their game instead of stomping out competition.

Gh05t62d ago

Agreed to a certain extent, I agree you cant own a genre or play type.

On the other hand EPIC is licensing out the tech for PUBG so they have a business relationship, and EPIC keeps referencing PUBG to explain the game. These are things that are definitely in the grey zone when it comes to business practices. If I am working closely with a licensee because my game has made tons of money and I am paying for extra support and development (Which I do have business experience doing this not in the game world but in business software) and that company puts out a competing product, and starts using my products name to sell theirs... you can bet I would be reading through my contracts, and having the legal team start looking for case law.

If this was any other company doing this like EA, Ubisoft, or Activision, I think this would be clear cut open closed they are just being crazy, but EPIC and Blue Hole have a business relationship so it calls more into question than just ripping off a genre or gameplay.

Either way this is for legal departments and contracts to figure out, I will just look forward to playing Fortnite Battle royal in a few days and see which one I find to be more fun.

kydrice62d ago

Agreed. Whether it's illegal or not is a matter to the courts but it's a bit of a dick move to clone a client's extremely successful game and then start using their name to discuss your own clone. It's even more so of a dick move since the original premise of Fortnite has nothing to do with how the new mode works. It really is just PUBG with cartoony graphics. Everything about the new battle royale mode screams of PUBG but with different things. It's a pure case of "Copy my homework but change the sentences to make it seem original".

rainslacker62d ago (Edited 62d ago )

Epic's business relationship doesn't preclude Epic from making their own games using whatever genre, or with whatever knowledge of tech they can create. Even if they create the tools to make their game better, and release their game first, they are not obligated to release those tools first to any developer.

Epic has a long history of not witholding tech they create from their engine, and often whatever they create for their own games is made available to developers before they release their game. Obviously, they'll be ahead of the curve since they implemented it in a game before release on their engine, but that's just the nature of the development process.

Epic has never been accused of witholding tech to try to gain an unfair competative advantage. They have absolutely no need to do so as they make most of their money from their game engine, and their games get enough attention and sales to not try and pull down others.

With this whole legal thing, Bluehole has nothing to stand on unless Epic actually did something of that nature, and even then, they'd be sh*t out of luck because Epic's own TOS on the use of Unreal Engine does not in any way gaurantee that Epic won't make something similar to what one of their licensee's may be working on. Such a term would be completely impractical for Epic, and they would never be able to release a game, because at any given time, there is every kind of genre and concept being made on Unreal Engine.

I think you may misunderstand the business relationship that Epic actually has with developers. That relationship is simply they provide the engine and tools and support for developers to make their games. They have no other obligation beyond that unless it's explicitly written out in a contract that goes beyond the standard boilerplate TOS.

If Bluehole made some technology that epic was using without permission to create their own Battle Royale mode, that'd be one thing, but that's not the case here. As it stand, the people at Bluehole used plenty of tech provided by Epic, and they paid to use the engine, and they have no protection against competition from others, or Epic itself. That isn't Epic's responsibility, and if the dev thinks they're special snowflakes that deserve more consideration, then they're deluded. Epic treats all their licensee's the same. They make their own games at the same time. No one tried to complain that Epic made Gears of War, and somehow might make take which would give them an unfair advantage for other TPS or cover shooters. It's a silly notion, and completely irrational.

extermin8or61d ago

Well apparently ToS for licensing Unreal Engine is that Epic can use your creation in any promotional /advertising materials for any of their products so..... that's not gonna fly either.

extermin8or61d ago

@kydrice: if you changed the sentences and wrote them yourself then you didn't copy..... Like take university work. If we all worked and did a set of problems together and wrote our answers together the same -that'd be plagiarism. If we work together then go off and write our answers we intend to submit up ourselves in our own words/ own style then that's collaboration because we haven't produced the same work we aren't copying. This isn't a clone of PUBG so there's no issue it's like seeing a theory of interpretation for the meaning of a book, then when writing up your essay you write it completely in your own words-then you were inspired by that persons theory and might even want to reference it as inspiration but your work is your own.

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Septic62d ago (Edited 62d ago )

Well Pubg is a great game and quite rightly, others feel threatened by it or are scrambling to ensure their title is as successful as it.

uptownsoul62d ago (Edited 62d ago )

Yeah, I'm sure Rockstar is adding a "Battle Royale" type mode (called Motor Wars) to GTAV b/c they're threatened by PUBG's success.

Nope, its just a copy-cat industry...The same way EA making Anthem isn't b/c they're threatened by Activision's Destiny, its b/c gaming is a copy-cat industry

SpaceRanger62d ago

“others feel threatened by it or are scrambling to ensure their title is as successful as it.”

I think the only one feeling threatened is them. They have a solid game, so them reacting this way is childish and foolish of them. No one should take them seriously when they had no second thoughts on basically taking the whole concept from H1Z1.

63d ago Replies(2)
JonnS62d ago

Don't think u can own the Genre , but think k own can own the improvements and the new features added to make it better .

SilverDemon62d ago

No. You can NOT own a feature. You can own music, characters, level design,sound effects, codeings of the game etc. but NEVER a feature

You cannot own:
Leveling up

Can you imagine of from soft owns losing xp after death? Or Id owning shooting with guns? Or mario owning stepping on the enemy to kill them?

Adrian_v0162d ago

Technically you can. For example Namco has owned the rights to mini-games used as fillers for loading screens (most well-known from the Tekken series).

JonnS62d ago

So you telling me that if they created s feature not known prior to their department or studio created it , that it can't own it .

Something tells me they can especially if it does not resemble anything in the game , cause if not what the point of inproving anything .

SilverDemon62d ago

@adrian that was YEARS ago and its about to be/already expired (now the system works differently

@Jonns you can copyright codeings/data you made BUT not the effect. If you programmed a game to do something (a feature) and another developer created his/her own code that does the same thing it will be OK because he/she would have a completely different code it just happened to do the same thing

I think Bluehole can sue EPIC for using PUBG to advertise fortnite (but that's about it)

rainslacker62d ago (Edited 62d ago )

Technically, you can own a feature in the form of a patent. but you can only own the specific implementation of that feature.

For the most part, features aren't patented, because gaming grows with new and unique ways of doing the same thing over and over again.

Most devs and pubs wouldn't pursue something like this because it means they themselves come under scrutiny. On top of that, they know that should it become the norm, the game industry would come to a grinding hault.


The TOS for using Unreal Engine explicitly states that Epic is free to use any content that is created on it's engine for the purposes of it's own marketing.

Epic was given permission to use that content the moment that Bluehole agreed to use the engine for commercial purposes.

Epic using it to promote their own game may be morally ambiguous, and ethically questionable, but Epic was within their rights to do so.

SilverDemon62d ago

Did know what the TOS for unreal4 was

So they don't have any ground to stand on right?

62d ago
JonnS62d ago

So as a Developer or studio it would best serve ones company to create new ways of doing things that don't resemble anything establish already .

So one can profit from one work instead of just bettering someone else items .

rainslacker61d ago


I am familiar with Epic's general terms of service that was likely enacted for Bluehole's use of the engine for PUBG considering they weren't a big dev when they started, and weren't publisher backed, and really had no reason to use something else at the time as it's quite an expensive upfront cost, although can be more beneficial for the long term. Things like that are generally reserved for games which are expected to be successful....and would be risky for a new venture like PUBG.

While it is possible that they have an agreement with Epic to use the engine in a way that differs from the standard agreement available to anyone(different depending on the business venture/personal use applied), I can't see that really being prudent to enter into for the start of PUBG.

Anyhow, when it comes to the use of licensee content to market, Epic is given rights to do such a thing within the standard agreement. More extensive games from big publishers(like on the level of Gears of War) would have a different agreement probably not allowing it, and likely keep any developer produced code/tools from Epic's engine, this wouldn't likely be the case here.

Using certain parts may also fall under fair use, as it's not illegal to use other products to market your own product, so long as the use of those products doesn't misrepresent one's own product.

I've personally seen many presentations that Epic makes for developers which uses various games to promote the features of their engine. For the bigger games, they likely have to have approval, which is probably not that hard to get. But in the end, using other's content to promote a competiting product isn't against the TOS.

Epic is pretty good about not showing stuff that hasn't been shown publicly so as not to disrupt any potential marketing plans or prevent unfair practices in competition, and I know of at least one instance where they requested to use the content on the standard TOS.

While I'd say I can't recall Epic ever using another game to promote their own, nor do I even know the actual extent they did so here, they are within their rights to do so.

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andrewsquall62d ago

What, like all the improvements to Unreal Engine 4 that the creators of Fortnite own lol?

Tsuru62d ago

I feel like no one read the original article by PC Gamer.


KwietStorm62d ago

The reason it was brought up is because they "clarified" the initial statement, where they definitely told everyone how much they cared what Fortnite did.

andrewsquall62d ago

I think its even more funny since the creators of Fortnite, I don't know, OWN the game engine that Battleground is built on i.e. Unreal Engine 4. Epic Games can do what the hell they want Playerunknown.

kydrice62d ago (Edited 62d ago )

That is false. Just because Epic owns the engine does not mean they can "do whatever they want". Bluehole has paid the licensing for it and therefore, they too have certain rights. What the those rights entail are not in my realm of expertise to say. If anything, this will hurt Epic's future business since now companies may not license the Unreal Engine in fear that if their product becomes successful, Epic will just make their own clone.

KwietStorm62d ago

It's not like Epic is selling a mod based on PUBG. They just have a mode in their existing game that's similar to the Bluehole's. Nothing about this is going to affect their stranglehold on the middleware market.

rainslacker62d ago (Edited 62d ago )

I can say what rights Bluehole has, because I'm familiar with Epic's terms of service for Unreal Engine.

Specifically in this case

1. Epic is free to use any content created on their engine for their own marketing.
2. Epic is free to use any tech created with their assistance for another developer within their engine.
3. Epic in no way says that they will not work on a similar product that one of their licensee is making.

Well, I guess those are actually the rights that Epic has, but those are the policies that Bluehole agreed to when signing up to use the engine, so in this case, Bluehole doesn't really have any rights that were violated. Their perceived rights on their part mean nothing, and their perception that they were wronged is not a case for legal action.

This will in no way hurt Epic's future business. Epic has released plenty of games over the years where competing games used the same engine, and they worked with Epic. Those devs didn't complain because there is nothing to complain about.

If anything, this will make Bluehole look petty and turn people against them. Bluehole may be the flavor of the month, but Epic is one of the most influential and respected developers and engine makers in the industry. Quite literally they are at the top along with the console makers, EA, Activision, an Ubisoft. Pursuing this action will hurt Bluehole much more than Epic, because the industry relies heavily on Epic, while the industry would not really be that affected if Bluehole disappeared tomorrow. Going forward, if Bluehole tries to make this into something more than it is, it will mean that those tidy little deals they get with the console makers, or maybe the PC hardware makers will disappear, because no one wants to deal with someone who wants to make waves....especially when those waves crash on the elite of the industry.

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