Krafton, publisher and developer of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, has filed a lawsuit in the US against Apple and Google, among others. The lawsuit revolves around the games Free Fire and Free Fire MAX, which Krafton says infringe the company’s copyright and are on the app stores.
Free Fire and Free Fire MAX are two battle royale games released by developer Garena. Krafton claims that these games are very similar to PUBG and therefore infringe the developer’s copyright. A striking detail is that Garena started selling the mobile game Free Fire in 2017, shortly after the first release of PUBG. Krafton contacted Garena, after which the two companies “came to an agreement.” The PUBG publisher emphasizes that this did not give Garena permission to use PUBG’s copyright.
Around September 2021, Garena released Free Fire MAX. Both games are available on Android and iOS through the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Krafton says both games infringe his copyright and copy many aspects of PUBG. For example, both games start a match in a similar way, where the players jump from an airplane and have to land with a parachute on an island. The “combination and selection of weapons, armor and unique objects, locations and overall choice of colors, materials and textures” are similar in the two games, as is the gameplay, the company says.
Krafton says Garena made “hundreds of millions of dollars” selling the two games worldwide. Apple and Google would also have “earned a substantial amount of money” by offering the games in the Stores. In addition, these two companies would have been able to collect a lot of user and sales data from the sale of the two games.
The South Korean PUBG maker says it has asked Apple and Google to stop distributing and selling the Free Fire games in December 2021. However, they have not done this. Krafton therefore demands in court that the sale of these games be stopped and that the company be paid an undisclosed amount as compensation. Game maker Garena is also covered by the lawsuit, as is YouTube. This platform is said to show gameplay videos of Free Fire, which Krafton also wants offline.
As far as is known, Apple and Google have not yet responded. A Garena spokesperson tells The Verge that Krafton’s claims are unfounded. The Verge also says, based on analysts, that the Free Fire games seem to be growing, at the expense of PUBG. This would explain why Krafton now decides to sue Garena.