Update July 23rd 7:36AM - PUBG Mobile has told Jay Tholen that it will rename the Hypnospace Diva skin "immediately". In a message to Tholen, the PUBG Mobile dev team said that the name was bestowed on the skin by a team member, who did not "[consider] the consequences of doing so". The people who were responsible for approving the name - which doesn't resemble the original translation of the Mandarin skin name, which would be closer to "Golden Diva" - were unfamiliar with Hypnospace Outlaw and so didn't see a problem with the name.
Original story: Jay Tholen, developer of puzzle sim Hypnospace Outlaw, has accused a new PUBG Mobile skin of ripping off his game. The skin is called "Hypnospace Diva", and it lifts not only the name of Tholen's game, but also its overall aesthetic and color scheme.
Why is this new PUBG Mobile skin a ripoff?
Speaking via Twitter, Tholen said it "sucks" that PUBG Mobile has "stolen Hypnospace's name to sell a tacky costume". The skin was announced earlier today on the official PUBG Mobile Twitter page. The Hypnospace Diva set depicts a futuristic sci-fi figure with a striking purple, yellow, and blue color scheme that's remarkably reminiscent of the one used by its namesake. Granted, the similarities end there; Hypnospace Outlaw is a fairly complex 90s internet sim and PUBG Mobile isn't lifting any of its gameplay, but the appropriation of the name and aesthetic is pretty egregious in and of itself.
As far as we can tell, the word "hypnospace" isn't really in common parlance and doesn't commonly occur in sci-fi or other fiction. As such, it seems pretty fair for Tholen to allege that PUBG Mobile stole his work with this skin. Speaking to TechRaptor, Tholen told us he was "definitely exploring legal options" because he considers PUBG Mobile to be "exploitative" and doesn't want his game's name and aesthetic tied to it. He also said he initially thought the skin was fan art and that someone had created a female take on the yellow figure in Hypnospace Outlaw's key art. As Tholen points out, this could lead folks to assume that the skin is a partnership between him and them, but he's emphatic in assuring fans that it isn't.
Why has PUBG Mobile stolen Hypnospace Outlaw's look?
PUBG Mobile is developed by Chinese gaming giant Tencent. As Tholen points out on Twitter, attitudes towards copyright in China are somewhat more laissez-faire than they are in the West. As a result, Tholen says he's been told by several people that he "basically [has] no recourse" and that Tencent likely won't act to remove the skin or change it in any way as a result of his complaints. PUBG Mobile is licensed by Krafton, but developed and run by Tencent studios Lightspeed and Quantum, which has led to occasional departures from the original game, as well as it being banned in India (where Krafton runs Battlegrounds Mobile India itself).
We've reached out to Mike Rose, the head of Hypnospace Outlaw's publisher No More Robots, for comment on this story. We've also contacted Tencent and Krafton for their take on this, and we'll let you know if we hear anything further.
What do you think of Tencent's blatant appropriation of Jay Tholen's creation? Let us know in the comments below!