Riot Games, creator and owner of the massively popular MOBA League of Legends, has recently filed a lawsuit against Chinese company Moonton over alleged copyright and trademark infringement.
As reported by arstechnica.com, Riot Games claims that several key scenes, stages, and characters from Moonton’s Magic Rush and Mobile Legends games have been based on or outright copied wholesale from League of Legends.
Taking the company to court earlier in the month in Los Angeles, Riot Games cites many key points of evidence in their argument. For example, one map in Mobile Legends is seemingly almost identical in design as Summoner’s Rift, the most popular map in League of Legends.
Chinese companies copying popular America games is nothing new, however. Earlier this year, the game Hero Mission was found by netizens to be a near identical copy of the game Overwatch ported to phones. Even outside of video games, numerous American cartoons have been copied wholesale, some even gaining the attention of the original shows’ creators in surprisingly humorous ways.
Rather than just malice or a lack of originality, there is a much simpler explanation as for why Chinese development studios continually copy their American counterparts. The Chinese government limits the amount of American media allowed in the country in any given year, blocking all but the most dedicated internet users from being able to experience our culture.
Even so, this doesn’t stop word from spreading of whatever new games and television shows America is creating, causing a great demand for these products even in an arguably inferior form. Seeing this demand, Chinese studios that have access to American media are able to take advantage of Chinese censorship and create near-replicas of popular media for profit.
Regardless of motives, though, this copying phenomenon is extremely wide-spread and often very blatant. Riot Games is simply one of the first developers to take these similarities seriously enough to bring the issue to court. A statement by Moonton in response to these allegations was also released recently, saying, “…for some media and competitors who have spread the unreal information and rumors against us, we reserve the right to protect ourselves and pursue legal actions.”
The legal battle is still ongoing. At this point in time, there has yet to be any news as to how Riot Games or Moonton will handle the similarities between their games in the future regardless of the case’s outcome.