Home Gaming Friday Debate: Should game concepts like Battle Royale be legally protected?

Friday Debate: Should game concepts like Battle Royale be legally protected?

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds PUBG Corp. is busy trying to sue Epic games for the similarities in-game concepts between it, and the most popular game on the planet right now, Fortnite Battle Royale. Those concepts themselves aren’t entirely new, stemming from a Japanese movie called Battle Royale, that put dozens of children on an island with goal of being the last one standing – Basically, a precursor to The Hunger Games.

It brings up an interesting question in video games: Should those ideas be protected? While it’s obviously bad to outright clone things, is riffing on concepts a misstep enough to head for litigation? Up until now, it’s not been possible to copyright concepts, and that’s a good thing; we’d not have had Sonic after Mario had that been the case. In the 90’s we had a rush of so-called DOOM clones, that spawned some really good franchises of their own. Hell, God of War was effectively a westernized take on Devil May Cry. We’re just now moving out of the MOBA and Hero Shooter phases, with survival games being another genre of games that have been copied seemingly ad infinitum.

On the other hand, it does seem a little unfair that Epic specifically and blatantly nicked PUBG’s core concepts to revive its own struggling game, and has now become the bigger property by some margin.

Contra to that once again is the fact that it’s deserved: Epic has continually updated, optimized and better Fortnite, while PUBG has become an unoptimised haven for hackers and cheats.

Gamesindustry.biz’s Rob Fahey addresses this expertly, saying that it should be up to the market to decide, not up to the law. But what do you think? Should game concepts be as protected as intellectual property?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: June 1, 2018


  1. Admiral Chief

    June 1, 2018 at 11:07

    ONLY if it is an unique concept, and if they can prove it


  2. Guz

    June 1, 2018 at 11:28

    They may have copied the initial concept but the games are miles apart in terms of look and feel

    *starts rant*

    PUBG can go suck it ,had another 8 gig “patch” yesterday which basically did nothing…..again

    It was fun at first but now its just such a drag to update it once a week and when you do play the hackers in the game totally ruin it and they definitively there.

    So bummed i wasted my money on it, fortnight is free


  3. Original Heretic

    June 1, 2018 at 11:36

    Wow, tough one…
    Do you deny everyone using a concept thereby allowing various people to improve on your initial design, or do you get offended when people copy you?


  4. Lord Chaos

    June 1, 2018 at 11:59

    I’m gonna copy-write the idea of FPS games in a war environment… 😛


  5. Matthew Holliday

    June 1, 2018 at 12:13

    I dont believe they have a leg to stand on.

    Like you mentioned, MOBA has turned into its own genre, rather than being a rip off of Warcraft 3s dota.
    Blizzard tried claiming rights to that, and the result was that Dota 2 just had to change a few names and cosmetics.
    Did that not set precedent?
    Sofar as Im aware, Fortnites concepts have taken everything and just changed everythings descriptions by like, one word, which, using the Blizzard vs Dota 2 case, should put Fortnite 100% in the green?
    And the whole building thing in Fortnite pretty much turns the whole concept on its head.

    And the core concepts arent unique to PUBG, movies and books can claim rights to those, and even a slew of games using the same concepts came befor them.

    If they had wanted to protect their concepts, their copyrights should have been either more, or less defined, BEFOR Fortnite came along.


  6. Kromas

    June 1, 2018 at 13:16

    This isn’t even up for debate. Fortnite could have borrowed its concepts from H1Z! or DayZ BR it is that generic of a concept. Pubg is so far in the wrong here they are not going to come out of this clean. They claim the whole airplane drop thing as original as H1Z1 did not have it but guess what DayZ BR had it as well as the ARMA mod years before them. So PUBG can FUCK OFF and file for Bankruptcy because they would rather sue Epic than fix their buggy fucking game.


  7. G8crasha

    June 1, 2018 at 14:27

    I look at the term Battle Royale as a gaming genre…how does one copyright a genre? Quite frankly, it’s practically a progression of the game modes, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. Some say PUBG copied H1Z1, but you don’t see those developers jumping up and down about this. PS: I bet CoD are watching this case very closely!


  8. RinceThis

    June 1, 2018 at 14:49

    Nope. You can’t copyright a concept. Imagine if Uber copyrighted their idea?


  9. RinceThis

    June 1, 2018 at 14:50

    If someone copies your game, and people like it more, tough. This is not a new concept, not by a long shot!


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