Bethesda Softworks is suing Warner Bros. Entertainment and Canadian game developer Behaviour Interactive for allegedly using code from its “Fallout Shelter” game to create a new “Westworld” mobile app.
Bethesda filed the suit in a District of Maryland court on Thursday, Jun. 21. It’s accusing Behaviour of breach of contract, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation of trade secrets. It’s also suing Warner Bros. for allegedly persuading Behaviour to breach that contract. It now wants both companies to remove each and every version of the “Westworld” mobile game from distribution and to stop developing and supporting it. They are also asking for undisclosed statutory and punitive damages.
Bethesda hired Behaviour in 2014 to work on its “Fallout Shelter” app. “Fallout Shelter” is a free-to-play simulation game where the player builds and manages a post-apocalyptic bunker full of workers. The “Westworld” app similarly allows the player to build their own version of the eponymous theme park and interact with characters from the hit HBO TV show.
In the complaint, obtained by Variety, Bethesda claimed Behaviour and Warner Bros. used its intellectual property without permission to develop a mobile game with the same or substantially similar gameplay experience.
“In so doing, Behaviour 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, and offer players the widely popular gameplay experience found in ‘Fallout Shelter,'” the complaint said.
Bethesda points to specific bugs in the “Westworld” app as evidence of stolen code. Those very same bugs are in “Fallout Shelter’s” code, it said. For example, Bethesda claimed the demo version of the “Westworld” game includes a visible software bug that’s also present in an early version of “Fallout Shelter” code Behaviour delivered to Bethesda during its development.
“The ‘Westworld’ game is a blatant rip-off of ‘Fallout Shelter,'” Bethesda said.
Variety contacted Bethesda, Warner Bros., and Behaviour Interactive about the lawsuit. Bethesda issued the following statement:
“Bethesda Softworks has today filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against Behaviour Interactive and Warner Bros. for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and misappropriation of its intellectual property. The case arises from Behaviour’s development of a ‘Westworld’ mobile game for Warner Bros. Behaviour had previously worked with Bethesda to develop Bethesda’s hit game, ‘Fallout Shelter,’ and under that contract, Bethesda alone owned all resulting intellectual property, including the game’s copyrighted code.
“Behaviour illegally used the same copyrighted source code from ‘Fallout Shelter’ to develop ‘Westworld,’ and copied Fallout Shelter’s game design, art, animations, gameplay features, and other elements. As a result of Behaviour and Warner Bros’ unlawful conduct, ‘Westworld’ is a blatant ripoff of ‘Fallout Shelter’ with largely superficial, cosmetic changes.
“Bethesda will vigorously protect its legal rights in the valuable intellectual properties it owns, and take legal action whenever those rights are being infringed.”
Warner Bros. and Behaviour Interactive did not immediately respond.