PUBG publisher Krafton has sued Garena over its Battle Royale game Free Fire along with Google, Apple, and YouTube due to alleged IP infringement.
Recently, PUBG has nearly doubled its player count following its recent free-to-play release -- a substantial improvement that even last year's free play weekend didn't manage. Although the game's original creator Brendan Greene left the company last year, development on this Battle Royale game continues.
Unfortunately, success inspires imitation. There are a lot of Battle Royale games that have come out since PUBG first launched, but Krafton alleges that one of these games -- specifically, Garena's Free Fire -- is infringing on its IP. Check out the Free Fire Max trailer below and judge for yourself:
The PUBG vs. Free Fire Lawsuit, Explained
Krafton's lawsuit against Free Fire details the company's issues with Garena's Free Fire in a court document that's over 100 pages in length. The complaint is best summarized by one of the opening portions:
7. As set forth in detail below, Free Fire and Free Fire Max extensively copy numerous aspects of Battlegrounds, both individually and in combination, including
Battlegrounds’ copyrighted unique game opening “air drop” 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.
The lawsuit detailed by Reuters (via 9to5Mac) spends dozens of pages detailing the gameplay, graphics, items, and overall look and feel of PUBG. One of the specifics highlighted in the lawsuit is the locations in the game world.
84. Scenes and Locations. Many of the locations, structures, landscapes, and other features within the Free Fire play area closely correspond to those within the Battlegrounds play area. For example, the Battlegrounds play area and the Free Fire play area each feature a graveyard, a port with shipping containers and a crane, a Southeast Asia coastal village, a shooting range, a small village, a farm, an airstrip, and a trestle bridge leading to a large adjacent island, among others. These areas in Free Fire are strikingly similar to those in Battlegrounds. Moreover, Garena has copied a large number of the specific types of buildings used by Krafton in Battlegrounds. On information and belief, Garena copied Krafton’s expressive depictions of the scenes and locations identified below where other depictions could have been used.
Dozens of images are also included comparing specific items such as the Frying Pan and iconic Level 3 Helmet. Many of the Free Fire items look strikingly similar to those of PUBG, but they also appear to have tweaks and changes that make them distinct (albeit still similar in many respects).
Garena is not the only target of this lawsuit. Krafton is also naming Apple, Google, and YouTube as defendants due to the sale of the game or the hosting of videos showing gameplay, owing to the aforementioned allegations of infringement.
This looks like it will be a tricky lawsuit however it plays out. There are similarities between the two games, but whether those similarities are infringing is something that the courts are going to have to decide. Krafton had previously sent legal warnings to all of the involved defendants to no avail, so it looks like this case might actually end up in court. Odds are, we won't hear about any resolution for months or years, especially considering the fact that there are millions of dollars -- perhaps even hundreds of millions -- on the line.
What do you think of Krafton's allegations against Garena's Free Fire? Who do you think will win this lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below!