Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has been accused of being an asset flip because it uses pre-made objects that have been purchased from the Unreal marketplace. Knowing that a chair was sold on the Unreal marketplace and then put in the game shouldn’t have a tangible impact, positive or negative, on anyone murdering their way through the massive warzones, but you’ll still find plenty of Reddit posts taking issue with it. PUBG Corp recently decided to set the record straight.
“I see some comments that we’re an asset flip,” Brendan "Playerunknown" Greene said at E3. “That kills me a little inside.”
After the above video with Greene was posted to the Plunkbat subreddit, PUBG Corp’s communications lead, Ryan Rigney, went into more detail, writing a post to clarify some “misinformation” about the art team and store-bought assets.
The first thing to understand is that if you’re just starting up a team, you’ve got to lean on asset store work because that's the only way you can spin up a game fast, and for a reasonable price, to quickly find the fun. Hiring an art team of 40 people to "try a game" and "see if it's fun" is simply not a smart way to work -- this is what the asset store is for! It’s a great resource for teams that want to work smart.
Erangel, the first map, was a mix of in-house work from the team in Korea, purchased assets and some outsourced stuff. The military base, for instance, was designed by a team in the US. By Miramar, the second map, there was a North American in-house art team as well as the Korean one, and less assets needed to be purchased. They were still used “strategically” because it didn’t make sense to build every single mundane object, brand new.
Rigney quoted one of the lead artists to explain why they do things this way.
Why should one of my artists spend two weeks on a generic sculpt if they could instead spend that two weeks adding real value for players elsewhere? How many times should a telephone booth be modeled? How many times do we gotta sculpt a cash register?
External assets aren’t just flung into the game, either, explains Rigney. They get tweaked by the artists, for both aesthetics and performance. Since the art teams are growing, each subsequent island should use fewer of these assets. Sanhok uses fewer than Miramar, and the latest map, due out this winter, will continue the trend. Rigney expects that external assets will still have a role, however. “This is a good thing.”