PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds seems to have stabilized on Xbox One due to a recent patch to improve the game’s rocky performance after its console launch, but Microsoft has stumbled into a completely avoidable controversy involving the game and stolen art used for an ad.
Over the holiday, Microsoft released a new ad for PUBG that showed a player stalking across a grass field on top of an Xbox One X. A neat concept, but one they did not come up with themselves.
Rather, that honor went to /r/PUBATTLEGROUNDS user Macsterr, who photoshopped an almost identical image as an ad concept almost two months ago. Yes, it’s an Xbox One S instead of an X, there’s no crate or wording, but it’s clearly the “inspiration” for the official Xbox ad.
After fans noticed this similarity, which wasn’t hard given that the original has 8,000+ upvotes and 60,000+ views, Macsterr commented that no one from Microsoft had been in touch about it:
“Remember my Xbox One ad concept? Microsoft just copied it!” Macsterr wrote. “I’m not saying I own any copyright but the original post has 63k views so I assume they saw it and I got no credits.”
Legally, even Macsterr realizes he probably doesn’t have recourse here because he was A) using PUBG/Microsoft assets, B) was posting the image to a public forum and C) owns no copyright on the work, but it’s obviously still a pretty scummy move by whoever at Microsoft decided to gank this for an ad campaign.
Microsoft, to their credit, have already responding, removing the ad and speaking through Major Nelson about the issue.
“Hey guys, I wanted to let you know that this is being investigated,” Nelson said. “In the meantime, our official channels have pulled down the asset in question. I’ll follow up with the OP /u/macsterr/ once I get more details.”
It’s unclear what the end result of this will be. I doubt that even if Microsoft secures permission from Macsterr that this ad will see the light of day again, given what’s transpired. I also wonder if they’ll throw a bit of money at him for his trouble, but I’m guessing we won’t know that either way, unless Macsterr details his interactions with MS publicly.
It seems likely that this is the work of one nefarious social media/advertising person rather than some vast conspiracy by Microsoft to steal one guy’s idea, and if so, I doubt that person will have a job much longer.
In the meantime, enjoy PUBG on Xbox One where it’s working a lot better now, and should continue to grow and expand in 2018.