PUBG developer is suing Apple, Google and the developer of lucrative PUBG lookalike Free Fire

PUBGcreator Krafton has submitted a big lawsuit monday: it sues the developer of two mobile games it accuses of copying PUBG: Battlefields, the popular PC Battle Royale shooter, and it is suing Apple and Google for distributing those games in their app stores. Krafton even accuses Google of hosting YouTube videos featuring gameplay of the two games in question, as well as “numerous posts featuring a Chinese feature film that is nothing more than a blatantly infringing live-action dramatization of battlefields.”

The games Krafton disagrees with are called free fire and Free fire Max, provided by developer Garena. In both the App Store and Google Play, they appear as: Garena free fire and Garena Free Fire Max. Both are available for free with in-app purchases.

According to Krafton:

free fire and Free fire Max extensive copying of many aspects of battlefields, both individually and in combination, including battlefields’ copyrighted unique “air drop” feature for opening the game, 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 claims that Garena made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from selling the apps and that Apple and Google “similarly earned a significant amount of revenue from their distribution of the apps.” Free fire.

In the lawsuit, Krafton compiled such equations to defend his case against Garena.
Image: Krafton

Krafton claims it took a few actions on December 21: It asked Garena to “immediately stop operating free fire and Free Fire Max,which Garena apparently refused; it asked Apple and Google to stop distributing the games, both of which are still available in both app stores; and it asked YouTube to remove videos with free fire and Free fire Max gameplay “that contain elements that flagrantly infringe on battlefields and, separately, the infringing feature film,” which Krafton says YouTube failed to do.

In case you’re wondering about that movie:

Krafton also notes that in 2017 Garena sold a game in Singapore that was “copied” PUBG: Battlefields. Although claims about it were settled, no licensing agreement was concluded, according to the lawsuit.

I admit I’ve never heard of it free fire for this lawsuit, but I’ve since learned that it’s pretty lucrative. free fire earned $1.1 billion in player spend in 2021, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower shared with The edge, an amount that was up 48 percent from 2020. While the total dollar amount is a lot less than the astonishing $2.9 billion that PUBG mobile earned in player spend last year, PUBG Mobiles numbers rose just seven percent year-on-year, Sensor Tower reports. That might suggest PUBG Mobiles growth slows down just like Free fire shoot up.

We also reached out to another analytics company, Appfigures, and while the data was different, it still suggested that: free fire is catching up. PUBG mobile, PUBG Mobile Lite, and the China- and India-specific versions of PUBG mobile earned combined sales of $639 million last year, according to Appfigures, while free fire earned $414 million.

Apple and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jason Golz, a spokesperson for Garena parent company Sea, tells The edge that “Krafton’s claims are unfounded.”

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