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Screenshots of Fallout Shelter (left), Westworld Mobile (right). Can you spot the similarities?
Screenshots of Fallout Shelter (left), Westworld Mobile (right). Can you spot the similarities?

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Fallout Shelter rip-off Westworld Mobile to shut down

A video game that rips off a more popular game has been pulled from stores, shortly after its developer settled a lawsuit brought by Bethesda Softworks.

Bethesda Softworks alleged Behaviour Interactive's Westworld Mobile looked similar in terms of design to its game, Fallout Shelter. It filed a lawsuit against Canadian game studio Behaviour Interactive in June 2018. By January 2019, the two parties had agreed to an amicable settlement, and Westworld Mobile shut down a week after.

Bethesda in its lawsuit against Behaviour Interactive had claimed that Behaviour had leveraged "Bethesda's computer code, game designs, and other intellectual property as the foundation for the Westworld game". Behaviour Interactive had worked on Fallout Shelter in partnership with Bethesda and launched the game in 2015.

Warner Bros., the Westworld rights holder and the mobile game’s publisher, said Behaviour Interactive had assured at the time of the accusation that no code from Fallout Shelter was used in the game and it had disputed all claims against the game.

But Bethesda was able to support its claims by pointing out that Westworld appeared to have a number of bugs identical to those found in Fallout Shelter's original release.

A statement from Westworld Mobile on 15 January said the game has been removed from the App Store and Google Play and that the game will officially close on April 16th.

We think the identical bugs in both games is damning for Behaviour Interactive, which claims to be Canada's largest independent game developer. Behaviour Interactive had actually worked with Bethesda on Fallout Shelter. It's not hard to imagine its programmers used the same code from the previous project in its new one.

Bethesda knew that and it said in its filing that Behaviour Interactive "breached its contract with Bethesda and utilized its restricted access to Bethesda's intellectual property, including Bethesda's copyrighted code, trade secrets, and other rights, to compress its development timeline, reduce costs, and quickly bring the Westworld mobile game to market."

This is not the first and last time games will be copied. When games become popular online a slew of knock-offs start to appear. Currently the most popular game online is PUBG (Player Unknown Battlegrounds), which has spawned a number of look-alikes and sound-alikes such as "Unknown Battle Ground Royale", "Last Battleground: Survival", "Last Man Standing" and "Survarium", among others. All of them feature the same "battle royale" format, in which a large number of players start with minimal equipment and eliminate all other opponents while avoiding being trapped outside of a shrinking "safe area", with the winner being the last competitor in the game. There were no lawsuits against these games.

But Chinese tech company NetEase was sued by the developer of PUBG for trade dress infringement and unfair business competition. PUBG Corp sued Netease in early 2018 for alleged copyright infringements found in its two mobile battle royale titles, Knives Out and Rules of Survival. PUBG Corp argues that the "overall look, feel, and audiovisual style of [both games] closely mimic the stylised realism of Battlegrounds." PUBG Corp also alleged NetEase brought the two free-to-play mobile games to the iOS and Android operating systems before the launch of PUBG mobile in an attempt to poach its audience.

There is no resolution to the lawsuit yet and the courts will have the final say. But NetEase's Knives Out is laughing all the way to the bank as the game generated the most revenue among all mobile games in 2018.

Do you think Westworld Mobile looks too much like Fallout Shelter? Comment below or at our PitchMark Facebook page.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

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