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PUBG Developer Suing Apple, Others Over Copycat Games

Comparisons compiled as part of Krafton's lawsuit.
Comparisons compiled as part of Krafton's lawsuit. / Photo courtesy of Krafton

PUBG development studio Krafton has filed a lawsuit against Apple, Google and the mobile developer Garena over a pair of mobile games Krafton believes copy PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS.

Krafton's lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California, accuses Apple and Google of distributing through their app stores Free Fire and Free Fire Max, two games developed by Garena that Krafton says are "blatantly infringing mobile version[s] of Battlegrounds." (H/T The Verge) Krafton also accuses Google of hosting YouTube videos with gameplay of the two games, and "numerous posts containing a feature-length Chinese film that is nothing more than a blatantly infringing live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds."

Per Garena, Free Fire is "the ultimate survival shooter game available on mobile," in which 50 players parachute onto an island and battle royale their ways toward being the last player standing.

Krafton says Free Fire and Free Fire Max copy "extensively copy numerous aspects of Battlegrounds," including the game's "copyrighted unique game opening 'air drop feature'" and a "combination and selection of weapons, armor, and unique objects, locations, and the overall choice of color schemes, materials, and textures."

Mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower reports Free Fire earned $1.1 billion in player spending in 2021, and Krafton wants its cut.

Krafton ordered Garena to "immediately stop its exploitation of Free Fire and Free Fire Max" in late December, 2021. Garena refused. Krafton also asked Apple and Google to act on the alleged infringement, but that both failed to do so to Krafton's satisfaction.

A spokesperson for Garena's parent company, Sea, dismissed Krafton's claims as "groundless."