PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) has refuted claims that the battle royale game for Windows PC and Xbox One is an "asset flip". It's a term used to denote a game that's made using store-bought assets. This was discussed at E3 2018 wherein PUBG creator Brendan Greene stated that it kills him "a little inside" when it's referred to as such. In addition to this, developer PUBG Corp took to Reddit to explain further, trying to elaborate on the intricacies of game development in the process.
"The first thing to understand is that if you’re just starting up a team, you’ve got to lean on asset store work because that's the only way you can spin up a game fast, and for a reasonable price, to quickly find the fun. Hiring an art team of 40 people to 'try a game' and 'see if it's fun' is simply not a smart way to work—this is what the asset store is for! It’s a great resource for teams that want to work smart," claims PUBG Corp Communications Lead Ryan Rigney. He went on to elaborate how the PUBG Erangel map was made.
"From the beginning, our first map (Erangel) was a combination of in-house work at our HQ in Korea, some direct purchasing of assets, and outsourced art work from a team based in the American midwest. Basically, a few Americans built the Military Base on Erangel. That went so well that Korea decided to build a proper PUBG Corp studio in Madison, Wisconsin for an in-house art team. Our reasoning for starting up that new studio is the same reason we started up PUBG Corp as a separate company: we want to build up our teams slowly but steadily, to ensure quality hires and good culture fits, because we want to build a global organisation to support PUBG for the longterm," his post continues before going onto to quote one of the game's lead artists:
"Why should one of my artists spend two weeks on a generic sculpt if they could instead spend that two weeks adding real value for players elsewhere? How many times should a telephone booth be modeled? How many times do we gotta sculpt a cash register?"
Rigney then stated that the Miramar map is made of a combination of in-house and external assets, with a majority of the latter adjusted for optimisation and performance. According to him Miramar uses fewer assets than Erangel and Sanhok fewer still. PUBG Corp's fourth map will use even fewer. Though he believes that if the team is smart, it would use a mix of assets from different sources.
While Rigney's account gives an insightful look into the process of game development, one can't help but notice the timing of it all. It's ironic that PUBG Corp has to address issues of being a game with no original work when its parent company Bluehole is taking Fortnite developer Epic Games to court in South Korea to "protect copyright" over its alleged ownership of battle royale gameplay mechanics. It wants the court to decide whether Fortnite copied its battle royale basics from PUBG. All this is made more amusing when you consider that PUBG is running on Epic's Unreal Engine and uses pre-made assets from Epic's storefront.
Speaking to The Korea Times, an unnamed PUBG official told the paper that it had filed an injunction for reasons of copyright infringement in the Seoul Central District Court back in January, after noticing the similarities between Fortnite's free-to-play battle royale mode and PUBG.
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