In China they call it Shanzhai. The culture of copying. There they don’t see copying as theft, but as something positive. That’s probably why they copy relentlessly and shamelessly, but in the West such actions usually provoke anger or, in some cases, lawsuits.

That is what has happened with the well-known game ‘PUBG’, whose creators have sued the Chinese company Garena, responsible for the video game ‘Free Fire’ which according to them is a blatant copy. The thing has not stopped there: they have also sued Google and Apple for allowing these copies to be distributed in their app stores and generating multimillion-dollar revenues.

Krafton, the company responsible for developing PUBG, already had its ups and downs with Garena when the company sold a game in Singapore in 2017 that also copied PUBG. The two reached an agreement, but according to the new lawsuit that didn’t mean Garena could license its video game.

Whether it did or not, the fact is that ‘Free Fire’ and its derivative version, ‘Free Fire Max’ have clearly suspicious resemblances with PUBG, something that Krafton has demonstrated with screenshots of one and the other game in which it seems clear that the development is basically the same.

At Krafton they point out that Garena’s game copies all kinds of elements, such as the “drop from the air” feature that makes players start the game by falling by parachute – although that also happens for example in Fortnite – or the structure of the game, its gameplay, its selection of weapons or locations and even the choice of colors, materials and textures.

The move, whether intentional or not, has allowed Garena to make a lot of money with ‘Free Fire’. That game managed to bring in $1.1 billion in 2021 according to Sensor Tower, an amount that was a 48% growth over 2020 revenue.

So far neither Google nor Apple have taken action on the matter, although the latter acted quickly with the clones of the trendy game, Wordle, for example.


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