Why the Fortnite lawsuit is a disaster for the games industry
If you’ve ever played any of the classic Super Mario games, you’ll know the basic formula revolves around the player running from one side of the screen to the other, jumping over obstacles, collecting power ups and coins, and avoiding monsters.
Since the foundation of the genre, with classic platformers like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros, there has been hundreds of thousands of games that copy this concept, each adding their own style or mechanics into the mix. The landscape is a rich and vibrant one, even today with games like Runner3 being released in the last few weeks.
Now imagine if Nintendo had sued every developer that made a platform game after the release of Super Mario Bros. Imagine if they won! We’d be deprived of gems such as Super Meat Boy, Rayman and Fez. Each of which uses the mechanic of running across the screen jumping over obstacles.
This is my issue with the Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG) vs Fortnite lawsuit. If you’ve been living under a rock, PUBG appeared around March 2017. It’s a battle royale “last man standing” shooter. Fortnite Battle Royale appeared in September 2017 and follows this same format. But whichever game you prefer, both are different in many ways…
PUBG has realistic graphics, like a Rainbow Six title or Call of Duty. Fortnite is quirky and cartoony, like World of Warcraft. PUBG has ‘red zones’ (areas of the map that are blasted with bombs, to keep you on your toes). Fortnite has resource gathering and building. PUBG’s weapons are based on real-life, Fortnite has things like the “boogie bomb”: an utterly ridiculous grenade that forces players to helplessly begin busting-moves mid-battle.
If PUBG Corporation wins the court battle, it’s a sad day for the games industry. Yes, it may have pioneered an awesome new genre of gaming, but it shouldn’t own the genre. Should PUBG Corp get sued by the makers of the Japanese film “Battle Royale”? Where does it end?!
Often, innovation comes from improving and changing pre-existing work into something new, exciting and different. Without both pioneers and the copycats we’d be left with a very dull and monopolised industry. Let’s hope the courts make the right decision and appreciate the hard work that Epic Games has put into creating something uniquely different from what came before.
By Dan Wiseman