PUBG and PUBG Mobile developer Krafton has sued app stores of Apple and Google as well as competitor Garena Online. The lawsuit is said to be over copyright infringement which involves Garena’s game called Free Fire, with Krafton alleging that many aspects in Free Fire are copied from PUBG, the mobile version of which became the sixth top-grossing mobile game globally last year. According to the lawsuit, the aspects that have been copied include the opening, the gameplay and game structure, the overall colour schemes, materials and textures as well as the selection and combination of locations, unique objects, weapons and armor.
Apart from the developer and the app stores, Krafton has also sued YouTube – Google’s video streaming platform – for hosting videos emerging from the infringing material.
In response to the lawsuit, Garena has said that the claims of the PUBG developer are groundless.
Krafton’s complaint states that Garena started selling the game that allegedly copied the aspects of PUBG in Singapore soon after the launch of the popular battle royale game back in 2017. The complaint further said that the mobile version of Garena Online’s game began selling on Google Play Store and Apple App Store first under the name of Free Fire: Battlegrounds and now Free Fire. While the claims in Singapore were settled among the two developers, Krafton did not enter into a licensing agreement with the other developer, it stated in the filing.
However, towards the end of September 2021, Garena released a separate mobile game called Free Fire MAX which was distributed via Apple and Google’s respective app stores. The game, which purportedly aims to offer the same experience as Free Fire, allegedly also infringes on many PUBG aspects, as per the complaint. Krafton further said that the allegedly copied game has now led to Garena earning hundreds of millions of dollars, with Google and Apple also earning revenue from it due to their policy of charging commission on games that are distributed from their app stores.
Apart from that, YouTube has been named by Krafton because the video streaming platform has hosted videos of Free Fire as well as Free Fire MAX games, with views that are well over a million. As per its claim, the platform also hosts a feature-length live-action film which is an infringing dramatisation of PUBG.
The developer has said that it has resorted to taking legal recourse because Apple and Google have failed to resolve the issue. As per the PUBG maker, the app stores had been requested to take down the game but both had refused to do so, while YouTube also refused to remove the infringing videos from its platform.