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Apple and Google sued by developer of PUBG for hosting lookalike game Free Fire in their stores

One company that is seriously pissed with the companies behind the two most popular phone operating systems is Krafton, the developer of the hit game PUBG. The company has dragged both Apple and Google to court due to two other games it claims are a copy of its own game.

Krafton is accusing Apple and Google of hosting Free Fire games in their respective app stores after complaining to them that the game is a blatant copy of its own product.

Google is on the hook twice as Krafton also mentions that YouTube hosts many video clips of a Chinese film that basically dramatized its live-action gameplay.

The offending games are Free Fire and Free Fire Max, developed by Garena. Both games feature in-app purchases that Krafton alleges to have earned Garena millions of dollars. However, they can be downloaded for free. Apple and Google now stand accused of earning substantial income through their cut from the alleged PUGB rip-offs.

Part of Krafton’s lawsuit reads:

“Free Fire and Free Fire Max extensively copy numerous aspects of Battlegrounds, both individually and in combination, including Battlegrounds’ copyrighted unique game-opening “airdrop” 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 added images that show the purported similarities between PUGB and the Free Fire games.

Garena had refused to comply with Krafton’s cease and desist letter dated on December 21st. Krafton sent similar notices to Apple and Google asking them to stop distributing the offending games in their app stores. It also asked YouTube to bring down clips of the film that copied its game. Krafton also wanted YouTube to delete all Free Fire and Free Fire Max videos on its servers. However, neither Apple nor Google has acquiesced to any of Krafton’s requests.

This, however, is not the first time Krafton had a disagreement with Garena over copied games. Back in 2017, both companies settled claims of Garena selling a game that was a copy of PUBG: Battlegrounds in Singapore. Krafton made it clear that there were no licensing agreements.

The Free Fire games are not as popular as PUBG, but they have been pulling in massive revenues for Garena. For example, Sensor Tower claims Garena earned a whopping $1.1 billion through in-game purchases in Free fire in 2021 alone, representing a 48 percent increase over what it earned in 2020.

In comparison, Krafton earned $2.9 billion through purchases within the games on mobile devices, a 7 percent increase over 2020. This means Free Fire is growing in popularity more than PUBG. However, estimates provided by other analytics firms are considerably lower.

A spokesperson for Garena’s parent company, Sea, told The Verge that Krafton’s claims are baseless.

It is interesting that a developer will try to hold app store owners partly responsible for hosting IP-infringing apps or games. Since these companies insist on a cut of all transactions taking place in the games as rewards for maintaining the store, it is not unreasonable to expect them to assist in preventing IP theft through their store. However, it remains to be seen whether Krafton can convince the court that Garena has committed an infringement.

Written by HackerVibes

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