|A poster of the Game Fortnite. / Photo by: Bago Games via Flickr|
Epic Games, creator of the smash hit video game Fortnite, is being sued by its main competitor PUBG Corp., developer of the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds video game, according to Yuji Nakamura and Sam Kim, reporting for Bloomberg.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the first video game to incorporate a Hunger Games format in which 100 players strive to kill each until only one player remains standing. Such a concept is also incorporated in Fortnite, which differs from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in that it allows players to erect fortifications similar to Minecraft and uses more cartoon-like characters that appeal to younger players.
The lawsuit is aimed at protecting its copyright, according to PUBG Corp, which has seen the popularity of its video game plummet at the same time that Fortnite’s adoration from video game players took off. As of the end of May 2018, as many as 260,000 viewers were streaming Fortnite on Twitch, while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds only had a tenth of that viewership. Most of the viewers were tuned in to games by Ninja, a former PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds player who defected to the Fortnite platform in early 2018.
Fortnite generated US$ 269 million in revenues in April 2018, mainly from the sale of in-game merchandise. On the other hand, as many as 44 million people have purchased the PUBG video game since it was rolled out in March 2017, which translates to total revenues of US$1.3 billion.
While the two companies may be at odds with each other, they are entangled in a complicated business arrangement. Epic Games licenses its Unreal Engine technology to PUBG, which was used in creating the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds video game. Both are also partly owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s Internet giant.
Previously, PUBG Corp sued Chinese video game developer Netease for copying PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds battle royale concept in its two mobile games - Rules of Survival and Knives Out.