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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds creator sues NetEase for copying hit game

Knives Out, Rules of Survival targeted by PUBG Corporation in lawsuit

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

I played a game today. It went something like this...

Jump out of an aircraft. Parachute towards a deserted island. Search abandoned buildings for a variety of real-life weapons. Try to kill everyone else to be the last person standing.

The game sounds like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. But it also describes Knives Out. And Rules of Survival. And Xiaomi Gunfight. And any of the other PUBG clones on smartphones from Chinese companies.
Now the creator of PUBG is striking back by filing a lawsuit against NetEase in California. TorrentFreak obtained the complaint, where PUBG Corporation lists several elements that it says NetEase copied to create Knives Out and Rules of Survival. They include the similar island maps, the use of a frying pan as a weapon, and even the slogan PUBG uses to declare that you’re the last player standing: “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.”
PUBG on mobile (top) and NetEase's Knives Out (bottom)
PUBG was still a PC game when NetEase released its clones on smartphones last year. And they’ve become incredibly successful: The company says Knives Out has over 100 million players, far more than the 40 million playing PUBG on PC and Xbox. PUBG has since been officially released on smartphones by Tencent -- which previously released two clones of its own.

As a player, it’s hard to deny that NetEase’s games feel like PUBG. Both Knives Out and Rules of Survival -- and, in fairness, other clones like Xiaomi Gunfight and Tencent’s CrossFire Mobile -- share PUBG’s focus on realism, with weapons and an island setting firmly rooted in the real world. And even if the maps don’t exactly match up, they do seem to have a variety of similar (if generic) settings, like farms and ports.

It’s especially clear when you compare the games to the other big battle royale title, Fortnite. That game also shares plenty of elements with PUBG. But Fortnite’s cartoon-like graphics, exaggerated environment, smaller map and emphasis on building structures mean it feels distinct -- and shows that it’s possible to build a battle royale game that is different to PUBG.

We tried to reach NetEase for comment on the lawsuit, but haven’t heard back. (It is a public holiday in China.) 

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