Riot Games is suing the Shanghai-based developer of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang for plagiarising Wild Rift, the mobile version of League of Legends.
Since launching a mobile version of the popular MOBA in 2021, Riot has doubled down on battling copycat mobile games. On Monday, May 9, it filed a complaint concerning developer Moonton Games in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Riot used multiple splash arts for champions and skins that resemble those of League and Wild Rift, as well as the assets and communication on marketing campaigns, to support its claims for the lawsuit. It also included reactions in community hubs that highlight the resemblance between the games.
This is the second time Riot has sued Moonton. In 2017, a case was dismissed by the Central District Court of California for an issue of jurisdiction. Tencent, the parent company of Riot, then sued the developer’s CEO for non-compete agreement violations in China and received $2.9 million as a settlement in 2018.
It could have ended there, but following the launch of Wild Rift in 2021, Moonton reportedly issued exclusivity contracts to give benefits to organizations that accepted not to compete in Wild Rift and compete in MLBB instead.
MLBB launched in 2016 on Android and iOS. It closely resembles the League formula but on the mobile platform. It has similar mechanics, a progression system, and marketing campaigns surrounding cosmetic items.
Since launching, the mobile game has rapidly gained success and generated over $600 million in revenue. And, despite Wild Rift releasing last year, it still counts over 80 million average monthly users, according to Active Player. As for esports, it was chosen as an official event in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, and the latest World Championship offered an $800,000 prize pool.