Krafton, developer popular online battle game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, has sued Apple, Google, and gaming company Garena over PUBG clone apps that copy PUBG gameplay, reports Reuters.
The lawsuit accuses Garena of creating PUBG clones called “Free Fire” and “Free Fire Max,” which originated in Singapore and were later released in the United States. Apple and Google are named in the lawsuit for selling the “blatantly infringing version” of PUBG that was created by Garena.
As set forth in detail below, 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 wearpons, armor, and unique objects, locations, and the overall choice of color schemes, materials, and textures.
Apple and Google are accused of distributing hundreds of millions of copies of the Free Fire apps, earning Garena “hundreds of millions of dollars” and netting Apple and Google a “substantial amount of revenue.”
Garena’s apps had more than 100 million daily users at the end of 2020, and in 2019 and 2020, Garena said that Free Fire was the most downloaded mobile game globally. Krafton estimates that Garena earned more than $2 billion in 2020, with $100 million of that coming from the U.S.
Apple on December 21, 2021 was told that Free Fire infringes on Krafton’s PUBG copyrights, but Apple has not taken action to remove the game from the App Store.
The lawsuit goes into great detail on the PUBG gameplay functions that have been copied in the Free Fire apps, but ultimately Krafton is asking for damages and Apple and Google’s profits from the sale of the Free Fire apps.
Krafton also had a dispute with NetEase over PUBG clones, but that lawsuit was settled in 2019, and the company also sued Epic Games over Fortnite, but ultimately dropped the lawsuit.
Apps that copy concepts and gameplay features from other apps are nothing new in the App Store, and clone apps have long been a problem. Just this week, in fact, Apple’s App Store allowed several clones of popular web game “Wordle” onto the App Store, only pulling them after media outcry.