Chinese gaming giant NetEase is facing down a legal challenge from Riot Games over a mobile title that, according to Riot’s lawsuit, bears more than a passing resemblance to its team-based hero FPS Valorant.
The suit alleges that a 5v5 free-to-play mobile shooter known as Hyper Front copies “substantial” portions of Valorant, including character designs, game maps, and weapon designs among other things. The suit also points out that Hyper Front came to light shortly after Riot revealed Valorant in October 2019, back when it was first referred to as Project A; just after that reveal, Hyper Front was unveiled by NetEase as Project M.
While NetEase has made changes to its shooter after Riot raised its eyebrows at similarities, the US developer still believes its IP is being infringed upon. “All of our creative choices are mirrored in NetEase’s game,” said Riot lawyer Dan Nabel. “We don’t think that changing the color of a character ability or slightly modifying the visual appearance changes the fact that it’s copyright infringement. It’s like that old saying, ‘You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.'”
Riot is bringing the case to multiple courts in Germany, Brazil, Singapore, and the UK and is seeking the shutdown of Hyper Front and an unspecified amount in damages.