In a market where everyone is attempting to be the next big hit, it is inevitable that some companies will copy one another in an attempt to get to the top. Unfortunately, this can lead to asset theft, music from other games being used in trailers, and whole games repackaged in asset flips. In some cases, corporations have to flex some legal muscle in order to protect their product. In the case of Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, it's corporate owners have recently filed a lawsuit against NetEase, creators of mobile games Rules of Survival and Knives Out, accusing the company of copyright infringement. However, sometimes in a race to protect your IP, you sometimes shoot yourself in the foot. In the case of PUBG Corporation, it looks like it did just that.
When looking over the lawsuit, however, one thing in the cosmetics and styles section stands out regarding the use of cosmetic item loot boxes available in Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. While talking about the mix of civilian and military wear, the lawsuit makes the following statement on how in-game clothing items affect gameplay:
However, clothing does affect gameplay in terms of camouflage. Clothing can be used to assist the player to blend in with the environment, making the player less visually detectable. In particular, BATTLEGROUNDS includes a Ghillie suit, a full body suit covered with camouflaging material typically used by snipers. The Ghillie suit allows the player to become nearly visually invisible depending upon the terrain.There has been a lot of debate over whether in-game cosmetic items affect gameplay, with many saying that they don't at all, and that is true in some cases. But in the case of games like Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, any sort of advantage to get a little bit more reaction time against your opponents can help. Whether or not this is reasonable in a loot box system for money is debatable and a discussion for a whole another day. But what's not debatable is the statement provided in the lawsuit goes against what PUBG Corporation has said in the past: in particular, within a developer Q+A. Specifically, CEO C.H. Kim said that "We will never add anything that affects the gameplay". This statement was made regarding items to be added after the games official launch day in 2017.
The statement at the time was met with cheers from the gaming community at the time, but it looks like that statement may have been a bit misleading, if not downright false based on the contention made in the company's own legal documents. It is also important to note that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds uses a lock and key system very similar to Counter-strike: Global Offensive. This means that not only does it make money on the direct sales of the keys, but it earns money on the sales of the most desirable items via the Steam marketplace. Many believe that when you start giving advantages to players based on items purchased from crates in a gambling-like system, that the game has gone one step too far toward the "Pay 2 Win" model. And when some items go over $1,000 dollars on the market on Steam, you can understand the concerns of gamers out there with such systems.
Clarification Edit: The specific example regarding the Ghillie suit is a little bit different given the fact that's an in-game item that drops in each game, and can't be purchased via a loot box. However, the section in question refers to cosmetics of all kinds and does not only apply to the Ghillie suit in question, but all cosmetics elements of the game. So while they used that example in that section to point out how cosmetics effect gameplay, the overall statement made int he section can be applied to all items in the game, including those in loot boxes.
Quick TakeIs anyone really surprised by this nowadays Now granted, I've believed cosmetics have had effects in-game for a while now even in games like Team Fortress 2, but I've generally been in the minority in that opinion. But this one is a clear case of a company saying one thing, but believing another. Sure, you can say that maybe their mind changed down the road, but that's why you don't say the word never when referring to future plans. Granted, the whole lawsuit seems like a stretch in the first place given the contents (more on that tomorrow), but things are not looking good for PUBG Corporations latest statement. Oh, and that whole Fortnite game taking a lot of the player base, despite their complaints about Epic Games game in the past.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you think cosmetics impact the gameplay of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds? Share your thoughts in the comments below!