Microsoft posted a tweet yesterday advertising PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on the Xbox One X. The ad shows a console with a grassy battlefield on top and a player sneaking through tall grass. The ad copy at the top says, “Land. Loot. Survive.”
Now the company is being accused of stealing someone else’s concept art. A Reddit user who goes by Macsterr posted an image (above) almost two months ago that is strikingly similar to Microsoft’s Twitter post. It has the same waist-high dry grass and the soldier moving through it. The main differences are that he used an Xbox One in his art and the controller is not depicted. Microsoft also added a half-buried crate in the tall grass.
Despite the minor differences, the concepts are identical. During a discussion about whether Microsoft could have just come up with the same idea, Macsterr noted, “My original post has 63k views.... so yeah its impossible.”
Many Reddit users agree that Microsoft ripped off his idea for their ad although others say that legally, he has no claim to the concept. The tweet has subsequently been deleted.
“As a full-time graphic designer, it's shitty, but surely you would have noticed the entire industry revolves around recycling ideas,” said Redditor Arendas. “This is more blatant than I would like, but ultimately the concept can't be copyrighted.”
“Legally or not, Microsoft should have at least given a shoutout or a courtesy notice to OP for using their idea.”
Another user proposed a question that added a bit of clarity that many others were overlooking.
“[The] OP did a mockup using assets from two different IP holders, PlayerUnknown and Microsoft,” vonmonologue argues. “Microsoft took the idea of the mockup, used different assets to recreate it, and used that in their ad. Legally speaking, which part of the original work would be OP's protected work? Just the layout?”
Indeed, what is Macsterr’s legal claim? Furthermore, could Microsoft or the game's developer pursue legal action against him for using their IP without permission when creating the concept?
He later posted, "I‘m not saying I own any copyright, [but] I assume they saw it and I got no credits."
Even those that argued that he has no legal legs to stand on agree that Microsoft was guilty of pulling a “dick move,” and should at least apologize or give him a “shout out” for the idea. However, after deleting the original tweet, Xbox replaced it with a more standard PUBG image.
My bet is that Microsoft will forego an apology and just sweep the faux pas under the rug.