It's a busy time for Bethesda with Fallout 76's imminent release and multiple other projects in the pipeline, but now the company is diverting some of its considerable resources to defend its intellectual property. Bethesda is suing Fallout Shelter co-developer Behaviour Interactive for allegedly re-using the same concepts and code on a Westworld mobile game.
Fallout Shelter is an immensely popular Mobile, PC and Xbox One game released by Bethesda in 2015, racking up 120 million downloads even before it was ported over to the PS4 and Nintendo Switch earlier this month. The player takes on the role of an Overseer, managing and expanding a Vault populated by 2D characters who have their own skills and responsibilities.
Bethesda point to similarities in the gameplay of Westworld - a mobile game developed by Behaviour Interactive and published by Warner Bros. - noting that the game, like Fallout Shelter, features "cartoonish 2D characters in a 3D environment".
The much more substantial claim, however, is that Behaviour Interactive didn't just re-use concepts but Fallout Shelter's actual game code:
"The unlawful use of Fallout Shelter’s design, gameplay, and copyrighted computer or source code allowed Behaviour and Warner Bros. to develop a mobile game with features and gameplay highly similar to those in Fallout Shelter."
Westworld's core gameplay mechanics (which can be viewed in the trailer below) do appear very similar to those of Fallout Shelter. The way that Bethesda claims to know it was made using the same code as their game, however, is by noting that the exact same bugs that troubled the early builds of Fallout Shelter are also present in Westworld.
This claim of stolen code actually sets this lawsuit apart from many others we've seen in the gaming industry. While situations like PUBG's suing of Fortnite suffer from the grey area of claiming ownership over ideas, Bethesda seems to be on more solid ground by offering tangible evidence of the alleged infraction.
Bethesda are demanding the "blatant rip-off" be shut down, and a cut of Westworld's profits be handed over as compensation. It will be interesting to see how the lawsuit plays out, given the immense resources on both sides of the conflict - but fans can likely rest assured that the dispute wont hinder the development of Bethesda's eagerly awaited Fallout, Starfield, and Elder Scrolls titles.