PUBG Mobile’s developer Krafton has initiated a huge lawsuit. The company is suing two mobile games that it accuses of copying PUBG, and the company is also roping in Google and Apple in the lawsuit for distributing these games on their respective app stores. The South Korean developer is also suing Google’s YouTube for hosting videos and livestreams with gameplay of the two games in question, as well as posts “containing a feature-length Chinese film that is nothing more than a blatantly infringing live-action dramatisation of Battlegrounds."
The games Krafton is going after are popular games Garena Free Fire and Garena Free Fire Max that have gained significant popularity in the last few months. Both games are available for free with in-app purchases, and offer a similar experience as PUBG: Mobile where a set number players battle it out in squads an open-world arena. “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," Krafton was quoted as saying.
Krafton alleges that Garena has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from sales on these apps and that Apple and Google have also earned a substantial amount of revenue from their distribution of Free Fire and the more recent Free Fire Max.
Krafton, in its lawsuit, claims on December 21, 2021, it took a few actions that included asking Garena to “immediately stop is exploitation of the two games." This was apparently refused by the Free Fire publisher. Krafton then also asked Apple and Google to stop distributing the games, but both are still available on both app stores. It even asked YouTube to take down videos relating to Garena Free Fire and Free Fire Max gameplay that include elements that infringe Battlegrounds and the feature-length film mentioned above. Krafton has said that YouTube hasn’t acted upon its request yet.
Krafton also says that Garena sold a game in Singapore in 2017 that “copied" PUBG: Battlegrounds. Now, while claims regardig that were settled, there was no license agreement established, according to the lawsuit.
In October 2021, Garena Free Fire was the most downloaded mobile game in the world on Google Play Store, according to a Sensor Tower report back in October 2021. It was the tenth most popular game on Apple’s App Store during the same time. Further, a report in The Verge cites Senor Tower numbers as showing that Free Fire earned $1.1 billion (roughly Rs 8,149 crores) in player spending in 2021. This was a 48 percent jump from the game’s numbers in 2020.
The report also cited data from Appfigures as saying that while PUBG Mobile was still ahead in terms of revenue, Garena Free Fire is catching up. The game earned $414 million in 2021, while PUBG Mobile made $639 million, including the India and China-specific versions of the game.
Apple and Google did not immediately respond to a query regarding the same. The Verge report quoted a Garena spokesperson as saying that Krafton’s claims are “groundless."