Early this morning, the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds announced a neon-blasted new Hypnospace Diva skin. That immediately caught the attention of Hypnospace Outlaw creator Jay Tholen, who now accuses the PUBG Mobile developer of using his work to sell a “tacky costume”.
Part detective story, part alt-history internet, Hypnospace Outlaw has a very distinct look pulling from the crunchy aesthetics of the ’90s web. PUBG Mobile’s skin may take a more generic cyberpunk approach—but with a strikingly similar colour palette on top of the name, Tholen is certain the handheld shooter is cribbing straight from his game.
ok i guess i’ll make a more direct quote tweet and say that it sucks that PUBG have stolen Hypnospace’s name to sell a tacky costume. the color choices seem to pull from our key art as well. https://t.co/OIkioEHWRN pic.twitter.com/hJrMdIwvxPJuly 22, 2021
A large part of the issue, for Tholen, isn’t just that his game’s name and artistic sensibilities were used. It’s the idea that someone may mistake this for an official collaboration, linking Hypnospace to a title he feels is exploitative and manipulative.
“I wouldn’t normally make a big deal out of this but I don’t want our name associated with gambling,” Tholen writes in a follow-up tweet. “It irks me that someone who already knows about Hypnospace could run across this and assume we made a deal that resulted in something so aesthetically and morally vile.”
Tholen admits that, as a small indie developer taking on PUBG Mobile owner Tencent, there’s very little he can realistically expect in trying to get the skin changed. Nevertheless, he’s still exploring legal options—if for no other reason than because “boy is that thing ugly”.
I’ve reached out to PUBG Mobile developer Krafton for comment.