What just happened? Krafton, the company behind PUBG: Battlegrounds, is suing the developer of two mobile games for allegedly copying the famous battle royale title, as well as Apple and Google for hosting them on their respective stores. Krafton also takes issue with Google for allowing clips of a feature-length Chinese film on YouTube that it says is an infringing live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds.
TechCrunch writes that the alleged PUBG Mobile copycats are Garena Online’s Free Fire games, which Krafton calls “thinly veiled unauthorized versions of Battlegrounds.”
Krafton claims that Free Fire and Free Fire Max “extensively copy numerous aspects of Battlegrounds, both individually and in combination, including Battlegrounds’ copyrighted unique game opening ‘air drop’ feature, the game structure and play, the combination and selection of weapons, armor, and unique objects, locations, and the overall choice of color schemes, materials, and textures.”
According to the complaint, Garena started selling a mobile game in Singapore originally called Free Fire: Battlegrounds (now just Fire Free) shortly after PUBG launched in 2017 that copied aspects of Krafton’s game. While the claims regarding that title were settled, Krafton never entered into a licensing agreement with Garena, and the company was not authorized to “sell or distribute games infringing [Krafton’s] copyright” in the US.
On 28 September 2021, Garena released a different mobile game, called Free Fire Max, on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Krafton says this game also rips off elements of PUBG and has earned Garena “hundreds of millions of dollars” in sales, making Apple and Google plenty of money in commissions. The Verge writes that Free Fire, which is free with in-app purchases, earned $1.1 billion in player spending in 2021.
Krafton says it asked Garena to “immediately stop its exploitation of Free Fire and Free Fire Max” on December 21, but it refused. Krafton also asked Google and Apple to stop distributing the games—both are still available on the stores.
Google-owned YouTube is also named in the suit. Krafton has asked the platform to remove any videos featuring Free Fire and Free Fire Max gameplay that infringe on PUBG copyrights. It also wants a feature-length Chinese film called BiuBiuBiu removed from YouTube as it is “nothing more than a blatantly infringing live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds.” Check it out below.
Update on the below:
1. The directors said it’s not a PUBG movie, despite basically being a PUBG movie.
2. Krafton said they are considering suing given the similarities to the PUBG IP.
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) August 15, 2021
Krafton is asking for a jury trial in its lawsuit and is seeking damages from all three parties for direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement. It is also asking for the profits made by Apple and Google from Free Fire and Free Fire Max “in amounts to be proven at trial.”
Jason Golz, a spokesperson for Garena parent company Sea, told The Verge that “Krafton’s claims are groundless.”
Image credit: Ritesh Ranjan Sett