PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Creator Massively Confused And Hypocritical In Rant Begging For More IP For Video Games
from the battle-lost dept
The last time we checked in with the folks behind the massively popular video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the company was complaining about Epic Games “ripping off” its 100 vs. 100 player game mode for its Fortnite title. In that post, we attempted to explain why this sort of thing isn’t “ripping off” in an intellectual property sense, because the idea/expression dichotomy exists. Using someone else’s idea for creative expression is not infringement, whereas using someone else’s specific creative expression is. Simple enough.
Except the folks behind PubG, as the game is sometimes known, didn’t take to this intellectual property lesson and are now instead suggesting that the entire video game industry needs much more intellectual property protection because of all the “ripoffs” out there. This from the creator of the game, Brendan Greene.
He claims elements of his game, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PubG), have been ripped off by other titles and he wants better protection from copycats.
Newly released on the Xbox One, PubG almost singlehandedly created a new genre, the Battle Royale game.
“I want other developers to put their own spin on the genre… not just lift things from our game,” Brendan says.
It’s worth noting that PubG is indeed a unique game in many ways. By tweaking several aspects of a well-worn genre and upping the map size and player count in a battle royale format, the game has become wildly successful. So successful, in fact, that one wonders exactly what danger Greene is seeing out in the hinterlands of clone-games.
Speaking to the Radio 1 Gaming Show, Brendan says: “I want this genre of games to grow.
“For that to happen you need new and interesting spins on the game mode.
“If it’s just copycats down the line, then the genre doesn’t grow and people get bored.”
Sure, there are indeed games that look to essentially clone others, including PubG. But those games are rarely more than blips on the radar in terms of success. And if you think about it, it’s obvious why that is. If game A comes along and introduces new features and gameplay that people gobble up, and then game B tries to copy that format closely, people aren’t going to be buying game B because they already have game A. The only reason to buy the second game is if it offers something the first doesn’t, in which case it isn’t a clone at all, but a separate creative expression that may have some similar elements to the first. That’s exactly how culture, including game genres, are supposed to morph and grow, and it’s essentially Exhibit A as to why the idea/expression dichotomy is such a treasure.
Greene also has a strange idea that video games are not afforded much in the way of intellectual property protections.
Brendan explains: “There’s no intellectual property protection in games.
“In movies and music there is IP protection and you can really look after your work. In gaming that doesn’t exist yet, and it’s something that should be looked into.
Let’s put a fine point on our response to this one: …….wut? The idea that games are not afforded intellectual property protection would come as news to this writer. I must now do some deep introspection, because I’m fairly sure I’ve written hundreds of articles right in these here pages about intellectual property disputes in the video game industry. In fact, not only do IP protections for games exist, the gaming industry specifically has done more in the realm of the nefarious to protect that IP than any other industry (see all of DRM, forever, everywhere). Claiming otherwise is nearly enough for a wellness check on Greene.
Beyond that, some of Greene’s reasoning is downright bizarre.
“Look at movies, Armageddon came out then 20 other comet disaster films came soon after,” Brendan Greene explains.
Can any of our readers actually name 20 comet disaster movies that came out after Armageddon? I can’t even name two. And the reason for that is obvious: once Armageddon did it, it was played out. No reason to go see another one of those movies. His example is actually a perfect encapsulation of why this isn’t a problem. One of the only meteor disaster movies I can recall is Deep Impact, which came out before Armageddon, and indeed was the inspiration for that film, so even this one example only works at a fifth of its supposed impact, and only in reverse. It would be hard to be more wrong with an example than this.
It’s also helpful to look at the Wikipedia article that describes, in the first paragraph on the game’s development, just how much influence and borrowing Greene’s game owes to its success.
Lead designer Brendan Greene, better known by his online handle PlayerUnknown, had previously created the ARMA 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale, an offshoot of popular mod DayZ, and inspired by the 2000 film Battle Royale. At the time he created DayZ: Battle Royale around 2013, Irish-born Greene had been living in Brazil for a few years as a photographer, graphic designer, and web designer, and played some video games such as Delta Force: Black Hawk Down and America’s Army. The DayZ mod caught his interest, both as a realistic military simulation and its open-ended gameplay, and started playing around with a custom server, learning programming as he went along. Greene found most multiplayer first-person shooters too repetitive, as maps were small and easy to memorize. He wanted to create something with more random aspects so that players would not know what to expect, creating a high degree of replayability; this was done by creating vastly larger maps that could not be easily memorized, and using random item placement across it. Greene was also inspired by an online competition for DayZ called Survivor GameZ, which featured a number of Twitch.tv and YouTube streamers fighting until only a few were left; as he was not a streamer himself, Greene wanted to create a similar game mode that anyone could play. His initial efforts on this mod were more inspired by The Hunger Games novels, where players would try to vie for stockpiles of weapons at a central location, but moved away from this partially to give players a better chance at survival by spreading weapons around, and also to avoid copyright issues with the novels. In taking inspiration from the Battle Royale film, Greene had wanted to use safe square areas, but his inexperience in coding led him to use circular safe areas instead, which persisted to Battlegrounds.
In that one paragraph alone, how many times are borrowing and influences in the game’s development and Greene’s previous work are mentioned? Way more than the number of comet disaster films that have came out immediately after Armageddon, that’s for sure.
Meanwhile, hey, BBC, how about injecting a little actual journalism into pieces like this? All of these refutations above weren’t exactly hard to tease out of a few well-phrased Google searches, after all. Maybe it’d be better not to simply parrot the claims of someone clearly out of their depths on matters of intellectual property.