Riot Games has filed lawsuits against NetEase in the UK, Brazil, Singapore, and Germany, alleging that the Chinese gaming giant’s game Hyper Front contains similarities to Valorant which constitute copyright infringement, reports Polygon.
The suits cite similarities between characters, maps, weapons, weapon skins, and weapon statistics. The filing, shared by Polygon, states that Hyper Front entered development shortly before Valorant’s initial release on PC in March 2020, entering open beta in August 2021 and launching fully in January 2022.
This isn’t the first time Riot Games has accused Hyper Front of plagiarising Valorant, with the suit using similarities between the design of Valorant character Omen and Hyper Front’s Nemesis. NetEase has attempted to address these concerns by redesigning the other characters, but Riot isn’t satisfied that the company has done enough to differentiate the two titles.
"All of our creative choices are mirrored in NetEase's game. We don't think that changing the colour of a character ability or slightly modifying the visual appearance changes the fact that it's copyright infringement," said Riot Games lawyer Dan Nabel.
A riot in the mobile games space
Riot has been at loggerheads with another Chinese company this year: Moonton, with each accusing the other of infringing on their respective intellectual properties, League of Legends: Wild Rift and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
China remains the world’s foremost mobile first market, but that market is shrinking. A recent hiatus on game licensing recently (as the Chinese government imposed strict restrictions on playtime in an effort to curb video game addiction) struck a severe blow to the market. Riot Games parent company Tencent may be the world’s most profitable games company, but it recently lost its status as China’s biggest company. As such, this lawsuit could be seen as an attempt by the company to maintain its own market position not by focusing on building on its own success, but by hampering the success of others.
Earlier this year, we listed Tencent and NetEase as two of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.