The Battle Royale rivalry between Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is heating up and there's not much that PUBG can do about Epic's free-to-play takeover of the 100-player killfest.
I've never played Battlegrounds so I can't attest to the similarities and differences, but in the end it doesn't really matter. Fortnite's main component (building) is enough of a difference that they can get away with this.
Epic has been around a long time, and they've seen a lot of people copy things that they popularized. I mean, if you want to go back that far, technically Cliff Bleszinksi was one of the first people to popularize the "PC Sidescroller" with Jazz Jackrabbit or even Commander Keen. Since then, plenty of games have riffed off of others, without blatantly copying all the elements. It is my personal opinion that Fortnite could be considered one of these "riffs".
I understand how this puts PUBG's developer Bluehole in an awkward spot, considering they are using the Unreal Engine, which is owned by Epic. But at the end of the day, PUBG has already sold more copies (in Early Access no less) than most games ever reach, so this would be suicide to them.
Which begs the ultimate question, at what point do you decide to enact an IP lawsuit? Certainly you can't do it as a small indie developer since you don't have the assets to survive a costly trial, and once you sell enough units to sustain yourself, you have less of a case to claim that the copying is hurting you, so it is a Catch-22 no matter what.
Don't get me wrong, I think this is a brilliant play on Epic's part, and as a fervent Fortnite player, I wouldn't have it any other way. Not only did they beat PUBG to console by a solid three months (PUBG hits XBOX on December 12) but making it Free-to-Play allowed them to claim that they weren't really making any money off of it, until they could make it different enough to start charging for skins and other cosmetics. Bluehole never had a case and they know it.
Meanwhile, Fortnite recently hit 20 million players. I even bought the main game to support Epic, but I never play the main game (I'm sure it's fine though). Instead, I play Battle Royale with my buddies. It's where most of my Twitch time ends up, so I can't complain.
Normally, I'm not one to encourage bigger companies taking advantage, but PUBG has sold 20 million copies at $30 apiece. I'm not going to come out and say they're in any position to complain. People will have their opinions, but at the end of the day that's all they have. A judge won't rule in their favor. All the better for me.