PUBG developer is suing several companies including Apple for copycat games

PUBG developer Krafton has filed a lawsuit against mobile developer Garena and Apple and Google over two mobile games the developer believes are copying its popular online shooter.

As in a company lawsuit (and discovered by The edge) Krafton has accused Apple and Google of distributing an “obviously infringing mobile version of Battlegrounds” developed by Garena in their mobile app stores.

Krafton is currently suing Garena (and the other companies involved) for damages over what it has described as “rampant, willful copyright infringement” of two of Garena’s games, Free Fire and Free Fire Max.

Garena describes Free Fire as “the ultimate survival shooter game available for mobile” in which 50 players (or in groups of four) compete in 10-minute rounds in island locations where the objective is to fight with the Parachute, stay in a safe zone and become the last surviving players.

Krafton argues in his lawsuit that both Free Fire and Free Fire Max “copy extensively numerous aspects of Battlegrounds,” including the game’s “proprietary unique game-opening feature ‘Air Drop'” as well as a “combination and selection of weapons, armor, and unique objects, locations, and the general choice of color schemes, materials, and textures” seen in-game.

While both Free Fire and Free Fire Max are available for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store, they come with a number of additional in-app purchases. Krafton claims that Garena made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from sales of the two games, and that through hosting Apple and Google “similarly generated a significant amount of revenue from their distribution of Free Fire.”.

Image comparisons from the Krafton lawsuit showing PUBG and Free Fire's similar use of frying pans.  (Image credit: Krafton, in documents re-uploaded by The Verge)

Image comparisons from the Krafton lawsuit showing PUBG and Free Fire’s similar use of frying pans. (Image credit: Krafton, in documents re-uploaded by The Verge)

According to the lawsuit, Krafton has previously contacted Garena about the games in question. “On or about December 21, 2021, Krafton requested Garena to immediately cease exploitation of Free Fire and Free Fire Max,” the complaint reads, which further states that Garena denied the request.

The company also states in the lawsuit that it similarly approached Apple and Google to distribute the two games on their respective platforms. The lawsuit alleges that in both cases Apple and Google failed to address legitimate copyright claims on their networks, and that their “selective enforcement of copyright laws” thereby renders both companies liable for “willful infringement.”

The lawsuit also targets Google-owned YouTube, saying it asked the company to remove “numerous posts” containing Free Fire and Free Fire Max gameplay. The lawsuit also specifies a live-action film titled “Biubiubiu‘, which Krafton says is “nothing more than a patently hurtful live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds”. To date, according to the lawsuit, YouTube has failed to remove the posts.

While the current lawsuit may be the most recent lawsuit filed related to PUBG, it’s not the only lawsuit that has recently sparked news surrounding the game. Last week, members of a hacking group known for creating cheats for PUBG Mobile were ordered to pay $10 million in damages by federal courts in the US. After the legal victory, the developer stated that they would reinvest the money into anti-cheat technology for the game.

For more on PUBG, check out this article, which describes how the developer’s recent decision to make the game free to play on consoles and PC is “in no way a reaction” to similar hit free-to-play games should be shooters like Fortnite and Apex Legends.

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. you can follow him Twitter.

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