Earlier this week, Warner Bros. published a new mobile game based on Westworld that has players blatantly disregarding the message of the show and building the best robot-murder theme park they can. One look at the details and images from the game, and anyone who’s played Fallout Shelter can tell its borrowing quite a few ideas from that popular management game, based on Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG series.
Game cloning is nothing new in the mobile space and, morally questionable as it might be, it usually doesn’t result in copyright suits. But in an appropriately Nolan-esque twist, Bethesda is suing Warner Bros., alleging Westworld’s cloning of Fallout Shelter goes even deeper than it appears.
According to Bethesda’s complaint, the text of which was shared by Polygon, Westworld “has the same or highly similar game design, art style, animations, features and other gameplay elements” as Fallout Shelter. That much is obvious just from looking at both games. But the real infringement, Bethesda alleges, is in Westworld’s code.
It was developed by a studio called Behaviour Interactive, which had previously partnered with Bethesda to make Fallout Shelter. Bethesda is accusing Behaviour of repurposing the same code it used in the creation of Fallout Shelter—code that Bethesda technically owns even if Behaviour was the one to write it—to build Westworld. Its evidence that there was some copying and pasting going on? Bethesda claims a demo version of Westworld suffers from similar bugs that appeared in Fallout Shelter code Behaviour delivered to Bethesda during the game’s development.
Bethesda is suing Behaviour for breach of contract over the alleged code copying. It’s also suing Warner Bros., as Westworld’s publisher, for allegedly “inducing” Behaviour into breaching that contract, and accusing both companies of copyright infringement and abusing trade secrets. The suit seeks to get Westworld pulled off the market and have Bethesda take a portion of whatever money it’s already made.