Author: Alanah Pearce

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Here's How You Can Meet IGN at PAX East 2018

ALL the panels!
By Alanah Pearce

PAX East 2018 kicks off in Boston tomorrow, and the IGN team will be providing tons of impressions and footage from the show floor for the duration of the show right here, as well as on our Snapchat and Instagram.
If…

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Janina Reacts to Her Battlefront 2 “Iden” for the First Time

Janina Gavankar is Iden Versio.
By Alanah Pearce

As it turns out, getting to watch an actor see a video game character that’s modeled after their likeness, mimicking the micro-expressions in their face, and speaking the lines they recorded, for the …

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GitHub Hit With The Largest DDoS Attack Ever Recorded

The company came out relatively unscathed.
By Alanah Pearce

Yesterday morning, developer platform GitHub was hit with what appears to be the biggest DDoS attack ever recorded. 1.35 terabits per second of traffic targeted GitHub, and the service was …

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Metal Gear Survive: More “Survive”, Less “Metal Gear”

Our hands-on preview after five hours with the game.
By Alanah Pearce[1] and James Duggan
The “Survive” in the title of Metal Gear Survive[2] is a lot more literal than the first glimpses of gameplay might’ve made it seem. This is, first and foremost…

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PUBG Publicly Shaming Fortnite Is A Terrible PR Move

Developers Bluehole even threatened legal action.

By Alanah Pearce and Tom Marks[1][2]

In what is one of the most confusing PR decisions of the year, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developer Bluehole sent out a press release today[3] calling out Fornite’s upcoming Battle Royale mode for “replicating” the PUBG experience, and vaguely threatening “further action.” The official statement says this is a response to “community concerns”, and some of those do exist[4], but addressing them like this accomplishes absolutely nothing. All it does is make PUBG players who had never heard of Fornite scratch their chins in contemplation, especially considering their mode will be free, and PUBG is $30.

Fortnite’s Battle Royale is undeniably similar to PUBG[5] – you land on an island arena, scavenge for weapons, run from an electricity field, and fight your way through 99 other players to victory. It ties in the game’s unique building and construction mechanics, and is missing some of PUBG’s own features (like vehicles, free look, backpacks, weapon attachments, and more), but it’s otherwise undoubtedly a copy. I do have sympathy for Bluehole’s Vice President, Chang Han Kim, when he says “we are concerned that Fornite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.” He’s not wrong.

There are some potential ethical issues there, but Bluehole officially confirming that Fortnite is successful in its similarities is an enormous endorsement for their own competitor – a game that was otherwise obscured by the shadow of PUBG’s 10 million copies sold[6]. To apply a phrase: “A dog can bark at the moon. If the moon ever barks back, that’ll be the most famous dog in the world.” PUBG shouldn’t have barked back.

If Bluehole hadn’t said anything, Fornite wouldn’t be making headlines today. If Bluehole hadn’t said anything, their game would continue to sell just as well as always, and this ‘controversy’ wouldn’t be making gamers seriously consider the competition. Fornite is already advertising Battle Royale as similar to PUBG[7], and they just had the juggernaut themselves promote the game that way for them.

PUBG probably wouldn’t exist without H1Z1

Issuing a legal threat via a press release is a particularly strange move, and longtime games PR representative Stephanie Tinsley tells us she doesn’t think she’s ever seen it done before. “Typically you’d let the other party know through a law team via legal channels instead of a PR team,” Tinsley told IGN. While she was clear to say that she doesn’t have any insight behind this specific decision, Tinsley said the statement “gave me the impression that it was not only unnecessary, but also a missed opportunity [for PUBG] to be perceived as a thought leader.”

It’s also worth considering that Bluehole’s statement disregards the countless times a similar kind of iteration has happened in the games industry, going all the way back to the original Rogue in 1980, from which the term “roguelike” was created – meaning literally “this is like the game Rogue.” No one bats an eyelash at the metroidvania genre either, which similarly gets its name from comparisons to those two games. And it would be tough to count up all the games that were dubbed nothing more than Doom clones, from the Star Wars: Dark Forces series to the infamous Chex Quest.

More pointedly, PUBG probably wouldn’t exist without battle royale shooter H1Z1: King of the Kill, which started as a direct recreation of the PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale mod for Arma 2 and 3, which was based on the Japanese Battle Royale film from 2000. Just three days ago[8] we published an interview with H1Z1 developer Daybreak in which they said “there wouldn’t be PUBG without H1Z1,” and they’re right. Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene himself was hired by Daybreak to help with the game after they saw his Arma mod.

In that interview, H1Z1’s Game Manager Anthony Castoro called PUBG a “clear fast follow opportunity” after their own game, and the community reaction to that statement was extremely negative. Our own comment section quickly pointed out[9] H1Z1’s connections to Greene’s Arma mod and the Early Access survival game DayZ, and even Daybreak’s former President John Smedley took to Twitter[10] to point out to Castoro that H1Z1 was a “fast follow” as well. Bluehole had to have seen that hostile reaction, making the timing of their own attempt to cry foul of another developer copying them even more baffling.

PUBG was a “clear fast follow opportunity”

Games have always iterated on each other’s ideas, and the Battle Royale genre is no different – in fact, it’s probably more subject to this sort of thing than most genres. Bluehole claims in its press release that PUBG is “the first standalone Battle Royale survival shooter game,” which is blatantly false. H1Z1 made King of the Kill Standalone in February of 2016, The Culling by Xaviant Games came in the month after that, and Ark: Survival Evolved’s Studio Wildcard released a short lived Survival of the Fittest standalone game around the same time. It may be the most popular, but it definitely wasn’t first, and it certainly won’t be the last.

The biggest question that remains to be answered is whether Bluehole will actually follow through on their threat of “further action,” and what sort of legal ground they have to do so. Bluehole accurately calls out that “Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press,” which could put the “replicating” argument in a whole different light in the eyes of a court, if it gets that far. But Greene’s own hope that companies who copy them “put their own spin on the game mode and not just make a carbon copy” is surely true of Fortnite’s building features.

But whether Bluehole has a real case for legal action or not, and whether they actually decide to pursue that action, isn’t really the point. A lot of the damage has already been done, as Bluehole comes off just as petty and willfully ignorant of the past as Daybreak did just days ago. I doubt this will cause PUBG’s continuously incredible success[11] to falter on its own, but Fortnite’s Battle Royale is probably going to have a lot more interested players when it launches next week.

Alanah Pearce is a writer/producer at IGN. You can find her on Twitter @Charalanahzard[12].

       
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