Dear Bluehole and PUBG, You Can’t Own a Genre

The logo for Player Unknown's Battlegrounds
PUBG wants to take on Epic in want seems like an unnecessary battle.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Unfortunately, when a big company like Epic decides to add the widely popular ‘Battle Royale’ genre from the game Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) to Fortnite, things get a little dicey. Bluehole, the creators of PUBG took offense to having their game copied, and even threatened legal action. But here’s the thing, you can’t copyright a genre, or at least you shouldn’t be able to.

The Implications

Yes, Fortnite: Battle Royale is kind of a shameless attempt at cashing in on the popularity of PUBG, and it can seem like they are trying to overshadow the little guy. However, that’s the nature of the industry, for better or worse. Imagine if you could copyright a whole genre or gameplay. Innovation would come to halt. Companies like Nintendo would surely fight to sue every platformer ever made and we wouldn’t have games like League of Legends or Okami.

Some of the best games are inspired by their predecessors and in time, evolve the genre as a whole. There are limits to what we can and cannot own and for good reason – competition. Competitors force each other to rely on more than impressive tech engines, physics, and framerates. In the end, unique game design always resonates with the players more than anything else. You would think that Bluehole would be aware of this fact, considering that their game evolved from mods of already established franchises.

A screenshot from PUBG.
Building PUBG serves Bluehole more than picking a fight with Epic.

The Statement You Make

Bluehole threat shows a little bit of arrogance on their part. Sure, with over 2 million concurrent players, PUBG has definitely won the hearts of the gaming community. However, it’s a game plagued with known connectivity issues, a lackluster UI, and other glaring flaws. Their fight against Epic games is an odd one, especially considering their game runs on Epic Unreal 4 engine. What do they hope to accomplish in the long run but attacking a worthwhile relationship? If the relationship between the two sours, does Bluehole and PUBG find another engine to make future iterations of their game? Are they willing to take actual legal action? It all seems unnecessarily petty.

I’m not saying PUBG is a bad game. Even after Fortnite’s new debuted, PUBG’s community hasn’t wavered. Plenty of fans are sticking with the game. I’m still looking forward to playing it when it eventually arrives on the Xbox One. However, Bluehole’s statement does give away their fears. People are trying out Fortnite: Battle Royale and enjoying it. Fortnite offers a less realistic and somewhat whimsical style to the genre, and best of all their building mechanic fits in surprisingly well. It’s a much-needed change of pace for fans of both franchises. In Bluehole’s eyes, the bigger company is trying to outshine them, and unless they can bring something new to their own game, they will be forgotten.

While it’s understandable that Bluehole might have this fear, the impact of PUBG shows that they have what it takes to evolve the series and live on despite the competition. Their success isn’t over. The company obviously has taken the right steps to ensure the game’s longevity through the creation of PUBG Corp., a company dedicated to the continued development of PUBG. The game is also sure to rise in fame when it reaches consoles. As long as they fight to keep the community interested, PUBG is sure to last a very long time.


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