When Warner Bros. launched their new mobile video game, Westworld on Android and iOS platforms it ruffled Bethesda’s feathers. Their prompt reaction was to file a lawsuit that accuses the production company of a ‘blatant rip-off’ of one of its games. Bethesda is suing for statutory damages and actual damages, but their legal team hasn’t specified a particular amount.
Bethesda filed the lawsuit in a Maryland District Court on Thursday and claimed that the game ripped off its Fallout Shelter mobile game, which was eventually ported over to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One.
Bethesda says that Westworld has the same game design, animation, art style and gameplay elements as Fallout Shelter. Behavior Interactive, co-developers who also worked on the game were accused of copying Bethesda’s code. Among the accusations that Bethesda brought up include copyright infringement, misappropriating trade secrets and breach of contract.
The suit accuses Behavior Interactive of breaching its contract with Bethesda by utilizing its copyrighted code, trade secrets and other rights to reduce their development timeline and costs to quickly bring Westworld to the mobile market.
Bethesda accuses Behavior Interactive of using the same exact code from Fallout Shelter in Westworld. They even cite the evidence of bugs that were found in an early version of Fallout Shelter - that were later corrected - but somehow found their way in Westworld. One bug causes the camera view to be off center and out of focus at startup, as if the camera was capturing the scene and was pointed to the “lower right foreground and then refocusing on the central image”. Was it coincidence because of sloppy coding or truly a rip off?
Bethesda alleges that both companies copied Fallout Shelter’s features and only made cosmetic adjustments to Westworld for their ‘western’ theme. Westworld Mobile’s similarities to Fallout Shelter have frequently been mentioned by the media.
Fallout Shelter was released in 2015 and allows players to run their Vault as an overseer. Players are given an ant farm view of rooms and the ability to customize their shelters, resources and recruit new team members. Westworld Mobile allows players a similar experience, but they have a theme part where users are given new hosts to occupy it.
Bethesda believes that Warner Bros. and Behavior Interactive are taking advantage of their well established user base and source code unfairly. Lawyers aren’t normally trained in programming and code, but it stands to reason that Bethesda hired a competent attorney to file the lawsuit. “Bethesda will vigorously protect its legal rights in the intellectual properties it owns and take legal action whenever those rights are infringed upon.”
The lawsuit is looking to not only shut down the game but also receive compensation. It is unclear at this point if they will be able to win the lawsuit or if they prefer to settle the matter outside of court. Polygondotcom also uploaded the complete file of the lawsuit on SCRIBD.
Warner Bros. has yet to comment upon these accusations.