The Most Controversial Video Game Lawsuits

5. PUBG Corp vs. Epic Games

The fight with Silicon Knights was not the only time that Epic Games has been involved in a legal dispute, including a very recent battle regarding two of the biggest games of the moment. The similarities between PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite have been well-documented, with even the announcement of Fortnite drawing ire from PUBG's developers. Before too long, things came to a head and PUBG Corp attempted to sue Epic Games.

However, the suit itself did not quite go to plan for PUBG Corp, with the company dropping the suit just a month after it launched it. The exact details of why this has happened are as-yet unknown, but the wider industry has avoided having difficult questions asked about games of a similar genre being subject to copyright claims. After all, although there are similarities between PUBG and Fortnite, there would be every chance that PUBG itself would then be subject of a suit from one who came before in the battle royale subgenre.

4. Digital Homicide vs. Jim Sterling

Digital Homicide Deadly Profits

The issue of Steam content control has been one that has caused debate for a long time, and some critics have been quick to point out a lack of quality control on the digital distribution platform. One of the most high-profile of these critics is Jim Sterling, who took the time to point out the most poor quality games on Steam, including the vast library of games from Digital Homicide.

In spite of Sterling's work coming under the bracket of criticism, Digital Homicide felt that Sterling's reviews were unfair, and eventually the developers launched a suit against Sterling suggesting that his work should be considered libel or slander. Digital Homicide asked for an astronomical $10 million in damages in its frivolous-at-best suit, but thankfully the company's tactic failed, with Sterling coming out on top after Digital Homicide's case was dismissed with prejudice.

3. Universal vs. Nintendo

Donkey Kong

Nintendo may be one of the biggest companies in video games, but there was a time where the company's place in the industry could have been in jeopardy. 1981's Donkey Kong was Nintendo's strongest foot into the arcade market up to that point, introducing gamers to two of the most iconic characters in gaming. Universal, though, felt that Donkey Kong was too similar to its own King Kong, and launched a suit against the company.

Universal's own legal history led to their downfall, however, after Nintendo's lawyer John Kirby pointed out that Universal had argued that King Kong was in public domain for its 1976 remake - a move that led to Kirby's name being honored with a Nintendo hero of his own. The court found in Nintendo's favor, and it appears as though Universal and Nintendo have buried the hatchet, given that the pair are making a Mario movie together and building a Nintendo theme park in Universal Studios.

2. Nintendo vs. Burt

New Super Mario Bros

Although Nintendo was on the defensive over Donkey Kong, the company has been very diligent when it comes to its own intellectual property over the years, and has not been shy of taking people to court. One particularly controversial example was when Nintendo issued a suit against James Burt, a 24-year old from Australia who made New Super Mario Bros. Wii available to pirates a week before its Australian launch date.

The case was not a difficult one, as Burt and Nintendo would settle for a whopping $1.5 million. Of course, it's unlikely that Nintendo would be receiving all of that money, but it sent a very strong message that the company would not tolerate piracy of its games lightly. Weirdly enough, though, Nintendo would end up sending Burt a limited edition The Legend of Zelda Ganon statue a few years later, so the pair may have let bygones be bygones.

1. Strickland vs. Sony

Grand Theft Auto VI Vice City

Violence in video games has long been a source of notoriety, and nowhere is this more true than with the Grand Theft Auto games. The Rockstar series has been no stranger to controversy over the years, be it the Hot Coffee squabble or the more significant fight with Lindsey Lohan over the alleged use of her likeness in Grand Theft Auto V. However, the most significant dispute came during the height of the debate over video game violence.

Infamous lawyer Jack Thompson, who became a major player in the violent video games furore of the 1990s and 2000s, took Sony to court over the shooting of police officers Arnold Strickland and James Crump, and dispatcher Leslie Mealer. Thompson stated that the killer, Devin Moore, was recreating scenes from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and blamed Sony and Rockstar for the murders. The case was thrown out, however, with the game covered under the First Amendment according to Alabama's Supreme Court.

That concludes our rundown of the most controversial video game lawsuits of all time. These legal disputes were not only major talking points, but also helped shape the history of gaming through the legacies left behind. As such, future video game lawsuits may look to these cases for a precedent on what's to come.

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