On Monday the 25th of June PUBG Corp., an organisation affiliated with Bluehole Inc. based in South Korea, officially declared their intention to drop a protracted lawsuit against Epic Games over allegations of copyright infringement. This comes after Bluehole had opened a court case in January against Epic Games claiming that their battle royale golden goose, Fortnite, had been created as an illegal replica of PUBG.
The case was spurred by the fact that PUBG sales and active player numbers had fallen exponentially since the launch of Fortnite last year, which for Bluehole Inc. executive, Chang Han Kim, suggested that the game was capitalising on the underlying concept of PUBG. Twitch statistics had also revealed that a smaller number of popular streamers had been broadcasting their PUBG sessions, which undoubtedly added to Bluehole’s concerns over future sustainability for their game sales (especially since many chose to stream Fortnite instead).
PUBG Corp. had also sued Netease for similar reasons over two battle royale games released for mobile, namely Rules of Survival and Knives Out.
At this stage it has not been revealed why PUBG Corp. had decided to drop their lawsuit, however numerous gaming commentators have already made it clear that the decision is not surprising. Both PUBG Corp. and Epic Games are owned in part by a Chinese-based corporation, Tencent, and a major court loss by one of its subsidiaries would have certainly represented an unnecessary financial blow for the conglomerate.
It is also strange that it was particularly Fortnite that was denounced by PUBG Corp. since numerous other battle royale titles have launched in 2018, with even the upcoming Battlefield V and Call of Duty entries flirting with the genre.
Virtually all court cases in copyright infringement ultimately boil down to one question: Is it a concept that is being copied or is it content that it being copied? It is what allowed Mark Zuckerberg to keep his billions, and now, it seems Epic Games can as well.