PUBG Developer Suing Multiple Companies, Including Apple, Over Copycat Games

PUBG developer Krafton has filed a lawsuit against mobile developer Garena, as well as both Apple and Google, over two mobile games that the developer believes copy its popular online shooter.

As detailed in a lawsuit filed by the company (and spotted by The Verge), Krafton has accused Apple and Google of distributing a "blatantly infringing mobile version of Battlegrounds" developed by Garena on their mobile app stores.

Krafton is currently seeking damages from Garena (and the other companies involved) over what it describes as "rampant, willful copyright infringement" surrounding the release of two Garena-developed games, Free Fire and Free Fire Max.

Garena describes Free Fire as "the ultimate survival shooter game available on mobile", pitting 50 players against one another (or in squads of 4) in 10 minute rounds set on island locations, which involve parachuting down, staying within a safe zone and becoming the last surviving players.

Krafton argues in its lawsuit that both Free Fire and Free Fire Max "extensively copy numerous aspects of Battlegrounds", including the game's "copyrighted unique game opening 'air drop' feature" as well as a "combination and selection of weapons, armor, and unique objects, locations, and the overall choice of color schemes, materials, and textures" apparent in the game.

While both Free Fire and Free Fire Max are available for free on Google Play and the Apple App store, they do include a number of additional in-app purchases. Krafton claims that Garena has made "hundreds of millions of dollars" from sales made across the two games and that by hosting them Apple and Google have “similarly earned a substantial amount of revenue from their distribution of Free Fire.

According to the lawsuit, Krafton has previously made contact with Garena over the games in question. "On or about December 21, 2021, Krafton demanded that Garena immediately stop its exploitation of Free Fire and Free Fire Max," reads the lawsuit, which goes on to state that Garena refused the request.

The company also states in the lawsuit that it had similarly reached out to Apple and Google over the distribution of the two games on their respective platforms. The lawsuit alleges that in both cases Apple and Google failed to address legitimate claims of copyright on their networks and that in doing so their "selective enforcement of copyright laws" renders both companies liable for "willful infringement."

The lawsuit also takes aim at YouTube, which is owned by Google, stating that it asked the company to remove "numerous posts" that feature Free Fire and Free Fire Max gameplay. The lawsuit also specifies a live-action movie titled 'Biubiubiu', which Krafton says is "nothing more than a blatantly infringing live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds.” To date, the lawsuit claims, YouTube has failed to remove the posts.

While the current lawsuit may be the most recent to have been filed surrounding PUBG, it isn't the only recent court case to have made 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. Following the legal victory, the developer noted that it would be reinvesting the money into anti-cheat technology for the game.

For more on PUBG, make sure to check out this article detailing how the developer's recent decision to make the game free-to-play on consoles and PC is said to be "in no way a response" to similar successful free-to-play shooters such as Fortnite and Apex Legends.

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

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