Fortnite tech benefits all Unreal users, but will it fuel the rise of Battle Royale copycats?

Engine updates unlikely to alleviate Bluehole concerns that PUBG advances will enhance Fortnite, which now has 7m players

By James Batchelor.Published Thursday 5th October 2017, 9:39am GMT

Epic Games has promised that any optimisations made to the Unreal Engine for Fortnite's new Battle Royale will in fact be passed on to all of the tech's users.

In an Unreal blog post, the firm details the various performance, memory and workflow improvements that will be added. All are available now via both Perforce and GitHub, with plans to ship them in the upcoming 4.18 and 4.19 updates for Unreal Engine 4.

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Most notable is the enhanced dedicated server performance, which enables developers to build games that can handle 100 players simulatenously, and the ability to create large maps that can be viewed in their entirety as players parachute in (for example).

There are also details on how these improvements will be applicable to console games, as well as PC.

It's a welcome move for Unreal Engine 4 developers, but it may worry some firms - most obviously Bluehole Studio, the company behind this year's smash hit PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

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The developer has previously expressed concerns that, since PUBG is built in Unreal, its work with Epic's support team to improve the engine's capabilities to suit the game's needs could feed into Fortnite Battle Royale, which is now in direct competition with PUBG.

Making these improvements available to all developers will no doubt prompt Bluehole into questioning whether work on PUBG has in fact benefitted all potential competitors. Of course, it should be noted that Bluehole itself will also benefit as it continues development on PUBG and aims to leave Early Access.

On another note, Bluehole and Brendan Greene have spoken out before about the number of PUBG copycats finding their way to market since the Early Access multiplayer shooter took off earlier this year. The studio referenced these in its original protestations about Fortnite, stressing it was the relationship with Epic that caused the most concern not the fact that it seemed to copy PUBG's formula (since, as mentioned, the studio is already dealing with multiple clones in the East).

Epic's post that these technical advancements will benefit every developer "especially those building games with similar requirements" could be seen as enabling copycats to better mirror the gameplay and functionality of both PUBG and Fortnite Battle Royale, increasing the number of battle royale titles that could flood the market.

GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Epic Games for comment and clarification on these matters.

PUBG is not, of course, the first game of its type. The last-man-standing formula has previously been explored in other games, most notably those by Brendan 'PlayerUnknown' Greene such as H1Z1: King of the Hill and the Battle Royale mod for DayZ. The success of PUBG has breathed new life into the concept, with countless developers exploring how it apply to their games - Rockstar, for example, has added a battle royale-style Motor Wars mode to Grand Theft Auto Online.

The news comes as Fortnite Battle Royale reaches 7m players, a milestone announced via Twitter. That's an increase of 6m players since it reached 1m within 24 hours last week.

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