When Epic Games announced Fortnite would be getting a "Battle Royale" game mode, it specifically cited PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds as an inspiration. That seems to have upset Bluehole, the developers behind Battlegrounds. In a press release this morning, the studio argued "Fornite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known."
Making things more awkward: Battlegrounds is built on Unreal Engine 4, the engine technology from Epic Games.
Epic Games did not respond to my request for comment in time for this story. [Update 1:03 pm: Epic Games declined to comment.]
Fortnite's take directly lifts the idea of a mysterious, deadly blue wall moving in, as time progresses in a match. While Battlegrounds' brilliance is the product of many good design decisions, the blue wall is one of the most visible and important.
"We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press," said Bluehole VP Chang Han Kim in the release. "This was never discussed with us and we don't feel that it's right."
Coincidentally, Janine Hawkins actually wrote about the mode for us yesterday.
As mentioned, Epic Games' worldwide creative director Donald Mustard made an explicit reference to Battlegrounds in a post at PlayStation Blog:
"Yeah, we made a PvP mode for Fortnite," said Mustard. "We love Battle Royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version."
As for what happens next, it's unclear. Bluehole said it's considering "further action," which sounds like the kind of vague threat a company makes, hoping the other side will blink. One wonder if Bluehole is merely trying to discourage other developers from doing something similar, or if they're really going to consider legal action. The latter would be rather unprecedented, given how often game developers tend to grab ideas from one another. Then again, it's 2017. Anything can happen.