In a lawsuit filed in the US, developers of popular open-world battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) allege that a Singapore-based company copied PUBG, with Apple and Google refusing to stop its distribution on their respective app stores.
In a Los Angeles federal court complaint, Krafton Inc. claims that developer Garena Online’s Free Fire game violates PUBG’s copyrights on the game structure, map locations, weapons and consumables, and other in-game items.
According to the complaint, Garena’s parent organization called Sea Ltd., based in Singapore, started distributing Free Fire via Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store in 2017. In 2021, the developer allegedly added another title to the Free Fire franchise, called “Free Fire MAX,” which also infringed on PUBG’s copyrights.
Krafton’s lawsuit says that Google and Apple allowed Garena to distribute several hundred million copies of the Free Fire titles so the copycat developer could earn $100 million in just the first three months of 2021. YouTube, a Google subsidiary, also stands accused of hosting Free Fire gameplay videos and a Chinese movie that looks like a dramatization of PUBG, according to Krafton.
The PUBG developer further claims it asked Google, Garena, and Apple in December to stop hosting Free Fire on the app stores. The developer requests the court to halt Free Fire sales and seek damages that make up for the revenue Free Fire cannibalized from PUBG.
Krafton is the latest to join the long list of developers complaining that Apple and Google make little to no effort to curb rip-off apps on their app stores. Earlier this week, Apple nuked several counterfeit versions of a game called Wordle from the App Store. The original app is free to play, but the rip-offs charge players money for a few feature variations.
We believe YouTube could claim that it is just a content distribution platform and its content and community guidelines were not violated. It could say the disputed content belongs to the uploaders. Things could be a little different for the app stores, however, because they have review processes in place before they allow apps to be published online.
Do you think Krafton should have directly sued Garena and its parent entities for copyright infringement without dragging Apple and Google to court as well? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.