Riot Games has sued Chinese tech giant NetEase, calling its mobile game Hyper Front "a copy of substantial parts of Valorant," Law360 has reported. On top of matching the format, NetEase also replicated parts of its character designs, game maps, weapon designs and more, Riot claims. It brought the case to the high court of England and Wales, but is also launching complaints in Germany, Brazil and Singapore, according to Polygon.
Like Valorant, Hyper Front is a free-to-play first-person shooter that pits teams of five against each other in different modes. In its claim, Riot noted that Hyper Front began development shortly after it revealed an early of Valorant dubbed "Project A" in October of 2019. NetEase, meanwhile, showed off a beta version of Hyper Front under the code name "Project M."
The release of Hyper Front in Singapore and other countries prompted complaints from users that it was essentially a "copy" of Valorant. That led to NetEase making modifications to the games, but the level of infringement goes beyond that, Riot said. The modified version of Hyper Front is currently available on Android and iOS stores, boasting more than one million downloads and 48,000+ reviews on Google Play.
NetEase is currently involved in a dispute with Korea's PUBG corp. over two NetEase mobile games. Earlier this year, two California judges said NetEase faced an "uphill battle" in challenging a settlement agreement with PUBG. Meanwhile, Riot Games recently settled a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit for $100 million.