'PUBG' 'Rules Of Survival' Lawsuit Says Cosmetics Affect Gameplay

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has featured a cosmetic-based economy since its early access days, and most gamers quickly came to terms with that. After all, a simple cosmetic doesn't have much of an impact on gameplay, right? As it turns out, however, the game's own developers at PUBG Corporation seem to disagree with that commonly held belief.

News surfaced Thursday afternoon that PUBG Corp had taken legal action against NetEase, the minds behind mobile PUBG clones like Rules Of Survival and Knives Out. The suit, which can be read in full via TorrentFreak, accuses NetEase of copying PUBG's assets and gameplay slogans for its own personal gain. There's no denying the similarities between Rules Of Survival and PUBG, but that's not the argument we're here to discuss.

PUBG Crates
‘PUBG’s crates are all about cosmetics, but the game’s developers say they have gameplay advantages. PUBG Corporation

In making its case to remove infringing games like Rules Of Survival from sale, PUBG Corp asserts a rather interesting claim about PUBG's cosmetic loot. More specifically, the documents suggest cosmetic infringement should be taken seriously because PUBG's cosmetics are a critical gameplay element. That excerpt of the lawsuit can be read below:

"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."

Even though the Ghillie suit used in the official example refers to an item that's freely available during a given match, the statement itself can be easily applied to all paid cosmetic loot in the game. For example, when the new Savage map goes public, there's technically nothing stopping content creators from making an exceptionally camouflaged suit to match the environment that costs $50 or more per key. The ability to conceal is a gameplay advantage, and, in the framework of this lawsuit, the game's developers concur.

Some PUBG fans may not see such an admission as a big deal, but it's worth highlighting that the phrasing goes directly against statements made by PUBG Corporation CEO Changhan Kim this past November. "We will never add anything that affects the gameplay," Kim said in a Q&A, adding that "there is a relatively strong demand for cosmetic items." But, as suggested in the statement above, these cosmetics do have a gameplay effect.

Issues like these raise questions over how cosmetics in loot-based games like PUBG should be made. When skins and outfits are being designed for Overwatch, for example, how much consideration is given to a skin's ability to camouflage on a given map? It's not something gamers often think about, but maybe they should.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is available now on PC and in Game Preview on Xbox One.

How do you feel about PUBG's cosmetics affecting gameplay? Are you OK with PUBG Corp shifting its stance to strike down clones? Tell us in the comments section!