Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Riot Taking Chinese Studio to Court Over Copycat

You may not have heard of the Chinese gaming studio Moonton, but you may have seen the supposed copycat game Magic Rush. Similar to size, scope, and characters, Magic Rush is considered a copycat of League of Legends. Earlier this month, Riot Games sued Moonton in federal court for copyright and trademark infringement.

When you compare the two games, it's a very compelling argument. Riot discovered Magic Rush in 2016 and found that many of the characters were carbon copies of League heroes. Take Annie and Mister Tibbers. In Magic Rush, there's a character called Emily, a young girl with pigtails with an ability to summon a toy bear for her defense. The character abilities are nearly identical with the two games.

Last year Riot sued through a civil court for infringement. Moonton ended up making some changes to the game to prevent a full lawsuit. However, Moonton felt that it didn't apply to other games they were developing: such as the mobile game Mobile Legends 5v5 MOBA. Another potential copycat  which uses battlefields that are near exact replicas of League of Legends. Thus to court they go!

Suing game studios in other countries is always a tricky business. Even worse in China. Though the market is heavily regulated, China tends to stick behind their companies. Whatever legal precedence occurs outside of China, businesses are not required to follow unless it's within their best interest to play nice. For Moonton, they could easily disregard the federal lawsuit. If the bulk of their business is in China and their game isn't pulled from app stores, it's not going to dent their bottom line. They will continue to make clones and stay content in their landscape. The issue of copycat games has been around for decades, and without clear international legal rules on copyright, it will continue to be a problem.

Moonton has issued a statement, and looks like they are planning to fight Riot. Though I would like to point out that their logo on Mobile Legends looks awfully familiar. Hmm...think they could have at least used a different font type and not directly replicate LoL. Sure it's more condensed, but those letters are nearly identical.

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