Riot suing NetEase competitor for copying ‘substantial parts of VALORANT’

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Riot Games has filed a lawsuit against publisher NetEase over the company’s five-vs-five mobile shooter Hyper Front, which Riot alleges is a “copy of substantial parts of VALORANT.”

In a lawsuit filed in a U.K. court, Riot alleges that NetEase copied numerous parts of VALORANT to put into Hyper Front, including “the overall type and design of the game,” game modes, characteristics of agents (named “heroes” in Hyper Front), maps, the practice range, weapons, the user interface, and sound effects.

The 162-page lawsuit extensively goes through comparisons between virtually every character, weapon, map, gameplay elements, and skins for both titles. In the lawsuit, Riot says that NetEase did modify numerous portions of the game in an initial set of complaints but alleges that the copyright infringement is still very present.

“All of our creative choices are mirrored in NetEase’s game,” Riot Games lawyer Dan Nabel said in a statement to Polygon. “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.”

While VALORANT was first released in 2020, the lawsuit alleges that the development of Hyper Front did not start until about March 2020, around the time that VALORANT was first officially revealed under the name “Project A.” The beta for Hyper Front was made available in 2021 before a full release in 2022, although not officially in the U.S.

By making Hyper Front available for download in the U.K., Riot alleges that NetEase has violated sections of the country’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. Riot is seeking substantial damage in addition to a shutdown of Hyper Front, and will be pursuing further lawsuits in other countries as well.

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