PUBG Developer Suing Multiple Companies, Including Apple, Over Copycat Games

PUBG developer Krafton has filed a lawsuit against mobile developer Garena, as well as Apple and Google, over two mobile games that the developer believes copy its popular online shooter.

As detailed in a lawsuit filed by the company (and spotted by The Verge), Krafton accused Apple and Google of distributing a “blatantly infringing mobile version of Battlegrounds” developed by Garena on their mobile app stores.

Krafton is currently seeking damages from Garena (and the other companies involved) for what it describes as “wilful and wanton copyright infringement” surrounding the release of two games developed by Garena, Free Fire and Free Fire Max.

Garena describes Free Fire as “the ultimate survival shooter available on mobile,” pitting 50 players against each other (or in squads of 4) in 10-minute rounds on island locations, involving parachuting, staying inside a safe zone and become the last surviving players.

Krafton argues in its lawsuit that both Free Fire and Free Fire Max “broadly copy numerous aspects of Battlegrounds,” including the game’s “unique copyrighted game-opening ‘air drop’ feature” as well as a ” combination and selection of unique weapons, armor, and items, locations, and the general choice of color, material, and texture combinations” evident in the game.

While both Free Fire and Free Fire Max are available for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store, they do include a number of additional in-app purchases. Krafton claims that Garena has made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from sales made on the two games and that, by hosting them, Apple and Google have “similarly made a substantial amount of revenue from their Free Fire distribution.”.

Krafton lawsuit image comparisons, showing the similar use of pans from PUBG and Free Fire.  (Image credit: Krafton, in documents reuploaded by The Verge)

Krafton lawsuit image comparisons, showing the similar use of pans from PUBG and Free Fire. (Image credit: Krafton, in documents reuploaded by The Verge)

According to the lawsuit, Krafton has previously contacted Garena about the games in question. “On or about December 21, 2021, Krafton demanded that Garena immediately stop its exploitation of Free Fire and Free Fire Max,” the lawsuit reads, continuing to claim that Garena rejected the request.

The company also claims in the lawsuit that it similarly approached Apple and Google over distributing the two games on their respective platforms. The lawsuit alleges that, in both cases, Apple and Google failed to address legitimate copyright claims on their networks and that, in doing so, their “selective enforcement of copyright laws” makes both companies liable for a “deliberate infringement”.

The lawsuit also takes aim at YouTube, which is owned by Google, claiming that it asked the company to remove “numerous posts” featuring Free Fire and Free Fire Max gameplay. The suit also specifies a live-action film titled ‘Biubiubiu,’ which Krafton says is “nothing more than an openly infringing live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds.” To date, the lawsuit claims, YouTube has not removed the posts.

While the current lawsuit may be the most recent to have been filed around PUBG, it’s not the only recent court case to make headlines around the game. Last week, US federal courts ordered members of a hacking group known for creating cheats for PUBG Mobile to pay $10 million in damages. Following the legal victory, the developer stated that it would reinvest the money in anti-cheat technology for the game.

For more on PUBG, be sure to check out this article detailing how the developer’s recent decision to make the game free-to-play on consoles and PC is said to be “in no way a response” to a similarly successful free-to-play game. shooters like Fortnite and Apex Legends.

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. you can follow him on Twitter.

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