Previously, Bethesda and Warner Brothers have been pretty friendly over the topic of Westworld, comparing a few scenes from the show to moments in their recent release at the time, Fallout 4. It was all above board, everyone was having a good time, I like to imagine their Twitter accounts laughing together over a beer or something.
— Bethesda Game Studios (@BethesdaStudios) November 14, 2016
Recently, however, things have changed. Those beers have been shattered on the countertop of copyright law, turning into mighty and pointy glass implements of law, with which to stab each other in the bar of legal proceedings. Or something. I didn’t think that through.
Bethesda Softworks is suing Warner Bros. and Fallout Shelter‘s co-developer, Behaviour Interactive, over the recently released app based on the hit show, simply titled ‘Westworld‘. The claim being made is that the Westworld app, released for iOS and Android, has “…the same or highly similar game design, art style, animations, features and other gameplay elements” when compared to Fallout Shelter. You can see the trailer and decide for yourself.
My personal opinion is along the lines of ‘yes, absolutely, are you seeing this.’
Bethesda is claiming in the suit that a lot of the code is similar, if not outright copied. This is supported by the same bugs appearing in this game that appeared in early Fallout Shelter builds. Accusations have also been made over art style, gameplay elements, copyrighted code, a whole manner of things. A full statement was released to USGamer that reads as follows:
Bethesda Softworks has today filed a complaint in US 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.
The full legal case boils down to copyright infringement, breach of contract and misappropriating trade secrets by the Fallout Shelter developers. It’s pretty intense and could very well turn ugly.
Polygon has the full details of the legal proceeding available for those who want the finer details.
So what do you think? A legitimate case, or are Bethesda going overboard?