Last year, Epic Games released Fortnite’s free-to-play “Battle Royale” game mode, generating massive interest among gamers.
Unfortunately, not all players stick to the rules. Thousands of people are trying to gain an advantage through cheats, ruining the game for those who play fair.
The same is true for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), which predates Fortnite and shares many of the same characteristics. While the games are very much alike, the same can’t be said for the way cheaters are treated.
Over the past month, Epic Games has filed lawsuits against several people who violated the company’s copyrights, by creating, promoting – and in some cases – selling cheats. While copyright infringement cases can easily bankrupt defendants, that’s not what Epic is after.
This week the company signed another ‘settlement.’ This time with Joseph Sperry, a.k.a. “Spoezy,” in a North Carolina federal court. Sperry, who stood accused of creating and selling cheats, admitted to the copyright infringement allegations and signed a consent judgment.
“Defendant directly infringed Epic’s copyrights in Fortnite. Defendant used the cheats. His use of the cheats created unauthorized derivative works of Epic’s copyright protected Fortnite code that are substantially similar to Epic’s copyrighted work,” the judgment reads.
“In addition to creating and using the cheats, Defendant promoted, marketed, and sold these cheats to third parties, and actively encouraged and induced these other cheaters to purchase and use the cheats to gain an unfair advantage in Fortnite.”
The order includes an injunction which bars Sperry from cheating or promoting cheats in the future, but it doesn’t list any damages. Only if Sperry breaks the agreement will he be required to pay $5,000.
From the various Fortnite settlements we’ve seen to date, it’s clear that Epic Games is not after money. Its main goal is to stop the cheating and to hold cheaters accountable, but the company doesn’t go any further, for now.
This is quite a large contrast between several enforcement actions that were taken against alleged PUBG cheaters in China a few days ago.
Although there were no specific copyright infringement charges mentioned, Chinese authorities reported that fifteen people were arrested in connection with PUBG cheating.
“15 major suspects including ‘OMG’, ‘FL’, ‘火狐’, ‘须弥’ and ‘炎黄’ were arrested for developing hack programs, hosting marketplaces for hack programs, and brokering transactions. Currently the suspects have been fined approximately 30mil RNB ($5.1mil USD),” a statement reads.
PlayerUnknown shared the developments late last week and added that it will continue to crack down on those who continue to cheat.
“We take cheating extremely seriously. Developing, selling, promoting, or using unauthorized hacking/cheating programs isn’t just unfair for others playing PUBG—in many places, it’s also against the law,” the company said, commenting on the news.
Without further details, it’s hard to compare the Chinese cheating ‘operations’ to the Fortnite cases. However, Epic’s moderate approach clearly differs from the Chinese crackdown against PUBG cheaters.
A copy of the consent judgment against Sperry is available here (pdf).