Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds creator Brendan Greene told a crowd on the final day of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco that he’s happy that Epic Games’ Fortnite is expanding the genre he was instrumental in helping pioneer. “It’s great that the battle royale space is expanding and Fortnite is getting battle royale game mode in the hands of a lot more people,” Greene said.
His answer was in response to an audience question about his thoughts on Fortnite, which last year copied PUBG’s primary game design idea and has since exploded in popularity largely thanks to its free-to-play model. “It grows the genre,” Greene added. The comments are notably conciliatory — though Greene prefaced his comments with a subtle joke about “having a lot of thoughts” on Fortnite. Epic has more than twice the employees of PUBG creator Bluehole, which last year issued what sounded like a legal threat when Fortnite’s battle royale mode was first released. The relationship was at the time and remains somewhat complicated by the fact that Bluehole relies on Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 to develop PUBG.
“It’s great that the battle royale space is expanding.”
Fortnite’s specific battle royale game mode, which pits 100 players against one another on a deserted island in a last-person-standing contest, has earned a dizzying amount of mainstream publicity, partly due to a recent collaboration between popular Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Drake, along with NFL player JuJu Smith-Schuster and rapper Travis Scott.
Fortnite’s popularity can be specifically attributed to its free-to-play and cross-platform model. That approach made the battle royale genre accessible to PlayStation 4’s massive audience for the first time and also helped Epic tap into a crowd of younger gamers who lack the disposable income to buy games or play them on expensive PCs. Until its launch as an Xbox-exclusive in December, PUBG was available only on Windows. Both PUBG and Fortnite are now available on iOS (and Android, in the case of Greene’s game).
Despite all that, Fortnite’s success hasn’t derailed PUBG or its colossal influence in the game industry. Greene reiterated onstage today that he never expected to see his game sell upwards of 40 million copies and remain the No. 1 game on the Steam marketplace, dwarfing global mainstays like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike. “When I started this three years ago, I never thought I’d be saying things like this,” Greene said.
On the topic of Fortnite, Greene joked that it’s not as if the developers of battle royale games need to compete in real-life fight-to-the-death bouts. “I really try to combat that perception that I want other people’s games to die,” Greene said, noting that PUBG was accused of killing Greene’s previous project H1Z1, and that H1Z1 had a similar effect on Arma 3, on which Greene first gained notoriety as a video game mod creator. “I’m just happy that more and more people are getting to see these games.”