Video Games

Krafton, maker of PUBG Mobile, sues Apple, Google and rival game developer Garena over clones – TechCrunch

Krafton, the developer behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” and maker of PUBG MOBILE, last year’s No. 6 highest-grossing mobile game globally, is suing app stores and rival game maker, Garena, for copyright infringement involving Garena Online’s Fire Free games. Jurisdiction that Garena Games copies many aspects of its own, including its opening, structure, gameplay, combination and selection of weapons, armor, unique objects, locations, general color schemes, materials, and textures.

Google’s YouTube was also named in the lawsuit for hosting videos of the infringing material.

According to the complaint, Garena began selling a game in Singapore that copies aspects of Krafton, shortly after Battlegrounds launched in 2017. Apple and Google began selling a mobile version of this game, which was originally called Free Fire: Battlegrounds and is now called Free Fire. Singapore’s claims were settled between the two companies, but Krafton never entered into a licensing agreement with Garena, the countries that submitted the claims.

Then, on September 28, 2021, Garena released a new title called Free Fire MAX, a separate mobile game distributed on the Apple and Google app stores. This game aims to offer the same user experience as Free Fire, says Crafton, and it also violates many aspects of Battlegrounds. The company noted that the offending game continued to earn “hundreds of millions of dollars” from its global sales. Apple and Google have similarly benefited, taking commissions from games distributed through their App Store platforms.

Meanwhile, Krafton fired YouTube in the lawsuit because it hosts videos from the Free Fire and Free Fire MAX game. The videos have been viewed hundreds of millions of times, or in some cases, over a million times. YouTube is also hosting a live-action feature-length film that is a dramatic breach of Battlegrounds, according to the claim.

Crafton says he is turning to the courts to solve the problem because Apple and Google have not. It said it asked app stores to stop distributing the game on December 21, 2021, but they refused. YouTube will also not remove offending videos.

The lawsuit comes shortly after the release of Krafton’s follow-up title in November, PUBG: New State, which contains a number of new elements. The company will likely be worried that their latest version will be copied as well if this issue is not resolved.

Duplicating popular apps and games has been a common problem in app stores, and the growth of the subscription market has made the activity more popular. Just this week, in fact, Apple had to delete clones of the popular online game Wordle, for example. Apple is also facing a lawsuit from another developer who lost money to clone apps. Like Wordle, other viral games of the past years, like Threes and Flappy Bird, have had clones as well. But in many cases, games are simpler and easier to copy and their popularity fades faster. For games like PUBG Mobile, the financial impact of clones is much more extensive.

PUBG Mobile earned $2.7 billion in 2020, which grew to $2.9 billion by 2021, according to Sensor Tower data. Garena Free Fire made about $1.2 billion last year, by comparison.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California on January 10, 2022. Crafton is requesting a jury trial to resolve this issue.

Krafton has often defended its gaming empire, having recently won a lawsuit against cheaters. PUBG also previously settled copyright claims with NetEase, also on copies of PUBG, but dropped a similar lawsuit with Epic Games over Fortnite in 2018.

The makers of the game did not respond to a request for comment.

Crafton sues Apple, Google, and Garena for copying PUBG Mobile by TechCrunch on Scribd

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