Bethesda is suing Warner Bros. and Behaviour Interactive over their new Westworld mobile game, alleging that the title directly copied code from Fallout Shelter.
The Westworld game, out now on iOS and Android, certainly looks similar to Fallout’s base-building simulator, and drew comparisons from the moment it was announced. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Maryland on June 21st, however, Bethesda Softworks claims it’s not just similar, but is in fact a “blatant rip-off.”
See, Bethesda tapped Behaviour Interactive to help make Fallout Shelter back in 2014, but did so as part of an agreement that made it the sole owner of all designs, artwork, and code. Bethesda claims Behaviour directly reused its earlier Fallout Shelter code for Westworld, putting the studio in violation of the earlier agreement and therefore copyright law.
The legal precedents surrounding clones of video games are notoriously forgiving, making lawsuits hard in cases where you can’t prove one party direct copyied the source code of an earlier game. Bethesda, however, believes it has a strong case that Behaviour did exactly that. In its filing, Bethesda notes that some specific bugs from code Behaviour wrote for Fallout Shelter appear in Westworld, offering one concrete example.
This software ‘bug’ appears when a player starts up the demonstration version of the Westworld game. Specifically, the view is out-of-focus and the scene that appears is far to the right and below the targeted landscape image. It is as if a camera capturing the scene had been inadvertently pointed to the lower right foreground and then slowly refocuses on the central image.
That’s quite specific, so it’s obvious Bethesda isn’t basing the suit purely on the fact that the games look and play similarly.
How this all shakes out is anyone’s guess, but we’re betting that, at the very least, Behaviour Interactive isn’t going to be working on any Fallout Shelter 2.