BALTIMORE (CN) — Coinciding with the official release of the “Westworld” mobile game, Warner Bros. was hit with a federal complaint Thursday that says the game is a wholesale imitation, down to its bugs, of the mega-hit “Fallout Shelter.”
With the phone-game cognoscenti buzzing about similarities in the two games since Warner announced “Westworld” in March, Bethesda Softworks tapped Margaret Esquenet of the Washington law firm Finnegan Henderson to file its copyright suit on June 21 in Maryland.
In addition to Warner Bros. Entertainment, the suit takes aim at Montreal-based Behaviour Interactive, which Bethesa Softworks claims to have hired in 2014 for help with the latest title in its 10-year-old “Fallout” franchise.
“The ‘Westworld’ game is a blatant rip-off of ‘Fallout Shelter,’” the complaint states. “Working with the same copyrighted computer code used by ‘Fallout Shelter,’ Westworld has the same or highly similar game design, art style, animations, features and other gameplay elements as ‘Fallout Shelter,’ all of which are owned by Bethesda.”
As in the early versions of “Fallout,” which became the most-downloaded free mobile app in the United States within a day of its release in June 2015, Bethesda says the same software bugs arise in the demonstration version of the “Westworld” game.
Though Behaviour Interactive is a video-game powerhouse in its own right, Bethesda emphasizes that the company helped in the coding of “Fallout Shelter” strictly on a for-hire basis, without any ownership rights to the final product.
“Fallout Shelter” is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which people live in elaborate underground bunkers to protect themselves from radiation. In the mobile iteration, game players control the bunkers and try to keep the occupants content while fighting off invasions by radioactive insects and monsters.
“Westworld” the game features a similar premise, with players working to keep tourists happy while expanding the android-filled western-style underground theme park that is featured in the HBO series of the same name.
There are no public numbers tallying Westworld’s sales yet, but the game’s website indicates more than 1 million preorder registrations. “Westworld” and its various enhancement software packs retail in Apple’s App Store for $138.
“Fallout Shelter” meanwhile has been downloaded by over 120 million players and ranks as the third-highest grossing game on the iOS app store, according to the complaint.
In its lawsuit, Bethesda says Behaviour and Warner copied everything from the game’s interface and controls to the way in which the characters look and move. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an order to have every version of the “Westworld” mobile game removed from distribution.
Spokesmen for Warner Bros. and Behaviour did not respond to requests for comment.