Riot Games will be bringing their next big battle to the courtroom. The League of Legends developer is suing Moonton Games, the developer of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB), for intentionally plagiarising League of Legends: Wild Rift – again.
This controversy runs deep, as this is not the first time that these two have seen each other in court, metaphorically. In 2018, Riot Games’ parent company, Tencent, sued Moonton over the latter’s predecessor to MLBB, titled Mobile Legends: 5v5 MOBA. The non-disclosure and non-compete lawsuit saw Tencent receiving USD$2.9 million.
Even before that, the two had brushed shoulders in 2016, when Riot demanded that another of Moonton’s MOBAs, Magic Rush: Heroes, be taken down from the Apple Store and Google Play Store for infringing its rights.
Now, 6 years later, Moonton is once again under fire for plagiarism.
In a statement provided to Yahoo Gaming SEA, Riot stated that, “Riot Games filed suit against Shanghai Moonton Technology alleging copyright infringement. This action seeks to stop Moonton from continuing its deliberate and sustained campaign to free ride on Riot’s highly valuable League of Legends: Wild Rift and related content,”
For example, Riot points out that Moonton had copied their new logo. Just a year after Riot had transitioned from its old logo to a new one, Moonton too changed its own logo to a design that had similarities which, as alleged by the suit, includes “the same layout, prominent use of the word “Legends,” and gold font”.
Riot also cites examples of Moonton copying their game design, promotional materials, and most egregiously, heroes & skins. The full copy of the suit can be found here, if you want an extensive list of receipts as collected by League’s creators.
Since Riot is based in California, while Moonton is based in Shanghai, the case is likely to be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. However, this move could be the first step in a long judicial journey for the case to be taken up by Tencent, similar to the one in 2018.
League is not the only homework that Moonton has appeared to copy either. Another Tencent-published MOBA, Honor of Kings (王者荣耀), which is highly popular in China, seems to be a heavy inspiration for many heroes in MLBB. Whether Tencent will also bring this to court is only speculation at best.
Ultimately, plagiarism is something that has been plaguing the MOBA scene for decades, even League isn’t entirely free from guilt. Once again, the case of “monkey see, monkey do” wins out.