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Krafton and NetEase settle over PUBG & Knives Out copyright quarrel

Krafton and NetEase reach a settlement over their five-year copyright argument over the latter releasing two games that intentionally ripped off PUBG.

Justin Carter

December 1, 2023

1 Min Read
Key art for Krafton's PUBG: Battlegrounds of a soldier behind a flaming background.
Image via Krafton.

Over five years after a copyright dispute regarding PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and the mobile game Knives Out, Krafton and NetEase have reached a settlement on the matter. 

A judge for the San Mateo Superior Court ruled in favor of Krafton, saying the PUBG developer provided ample evidence that NetEase breached the previously agreed terms of their contract. At the same time, the judge argued that Krafton failed to justify its demand for $65 million in damages. 

As a result of this new ruling, Krafton's received an undisclosed sum in "liquidated damages," while simultaneously being denied injunctive relief. 

In mid-2018, the Callisto Protocol publisher claimed that NetEase's two battle royale games, Knives Out and Rules of Survival, "closely mimicked" the realistic style of its own battle royale. It also argued that NetEase released both of the free-to-play titles in an attempt to get ahead of the release of PUBG Mobile earlier that year. 

While the two struck a confidentiality agreement in 2019, Krafton then argued NetEase breached those settlement terms and failed to change elements of its games such as in-game items and map layouts. 

Battle royale in court

This isn't the first time Krafton has taken legal action against studios that have allegedly ripped off its flagship game. Last year, it sued Singaporean developer Garena over its game Free Fire with similar claims of it taking PUBG elements such as in-game items, equipment, and locations. 

Free Fire was later pulled from India's app stores over private security concerns. But beyond that, it remains playable in other countries and at time of writing, it's unclear if Krafton similarly settled with Garena, or if its trial just hasn't taken place yet.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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