PUBG creator Krafton has filed a lawsuit against Free Fire creator Garena, Apple and Google

PUBG creator Krafton filed a massive lawsuit on Monday, accusing the developer of two mobile games of copying PUBG: Battlegrounds, the popular PC battle royale shooter, as well as Apple and Google for allowing the games to be distributed on their respective app stores. Google is also accused of hosting YouTube footage of the two games in question, as well as "many posts featuring a feature-length Chinese film that is nothing more than a brazenly infringing live-action portrayal of Battlegrounds," according to Krafton.

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Free Fire and Free Fire Max, both developed by Garena, are the games that Krafton has a problem with. They're known as Garena Free Fire and Garena Free Fire Max on both the App Store and Google Play. Both are free to download with in-app purchases.

Krafton claims that:
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 are all heavily copied in Free Fire and Free Fire Max, both individually and in combination.

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Garena has allegedly made "hundreds of millions of dollars" from app purchases, while Apple and Google have "similarly received a large amount of revenue from their distribution of Free Fire," according to Krafton.

On December 21st, Krafton claims it took the following steps: it asked Garena to "immediately stop its exploitation of Free Fire and Free Fire Max," which Garena allegedly refused; it asked Apple and Google to stop distributing the games, which are still available on both app stores; and it asked YouTube to remove videos featuring Free Fire and Free Fire Max gameplay "that include elements that blatantly infringe Battlegrounds and, separately, the infringing feature," which YouTube apparently refused

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In 2017, Garena sold a game in Singapore that "copied" PUBG: Battlegrounds, according to Krafton. According to the lawsuit, while disputes about that were settled, no license agreement was made.

I had never heard of Free Fire before this case, but I've subsequently learnt that it's a very profitable company. According to data supplied by The Verge by analytics firm Sensor Tower, Free Fire generated $1.1 billion in player expenditure in 2021, up 48 percent from 2020. While the total dollar amount is significantly smaller than PUBG Mobile's record-breaking $2.9 billion in player spending last year, Sensor Tower says that PUBG Mobile's stats were only up 7% year-over-year. This could indicate that PUBG Mobile's growth is waning while Free Fire's is exploding.


We also looked with Appfigures, a separate analytics firm, and while the data was different, it also indicated that Free Fire is catching up. According to Appfigures, PUBG Mobile, PUBG Mobile Lite, and the China and India-specific editions of PUBG Mobile made a total of $639 million in sales last year, while Free Fire made $414 million.

A request for comment from Apple and Google was not immediately returned. "Krafton's assertions are groundless," says Jason Golz, a representative for Garena parent company Sea, according to The Verge.
 

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