Riot Games, Inc. v. Stefan Delgado Argote et al
Case number 2:16-cv-05871
District Court for the Central District of California
Decided: March 1st 2017

In August 2016, California-based Riot Games, Inc. sued the makers of a service called LeagueSharp. LeagueSharp was a software product that was designed to allow players to hack Riot’s game “League of Legends.” The complaint claimed that the software allowed players to see hidden information, play an automated version of their game and accelerate through the game faster than would be otherwise possible for a human player. Riot alleged that selling the product violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it was technology that was specifically designed to dodge Riot’s anti-cheat software. The suit was filed against three individuals as well as Chachani Mistie y Pichu Pichu SRI, which is a Peru-based company. It was allegedly a shell company formed by the makers of LeagueSharp in order to evade liability. Alleged violations included trafficking in circumvention devices, an unfair competition claim, and intentional interference with contractual relations.

The complaint alleged that LeagueSharp charged customers a $15 fee per month in order to obtain and use its service. The complaint alleges that LeagueSharp also offered a separate “botting service” for $50 per month which allowed users to automate multiple accounts simultaneously.“League of Legends” is free to play, but players win in-game currency in successful matches that can be used to purchase new characters. Players can also purchase “skins” for their characters, giving them a new look or new phrases to say with some themed according to holidays or fictional works. In addition to harming the gaming community, Riot Games claimed that the operators of LeagueSharp attacked its servers and advised customers to dispute in-game transactions fraudulently. When Riot tried to resolve these problems by reaching out directly to LeagueSharp’s creators, the creators allegedly didn’t respond and then leaked an employee’s private information.

On March 1st, 2017, Riot received both a $10 million payout and a court-ordered ban on the makers of LeagueSharp. The parties reached a confidential settlement that will govern the release of the $10 million judgment, but the judgment amount was made public by U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew during the March 1st filing. Judge Lew signed off on the injunction and settlement, which call for the makers of the software to never play a Riot game again and relinquish control over the websites used to sell the software, among other provisions. The terms of settlement appear similar to a previous cases, MDY v. Donnely, and Jagex Limited v. Impulse Software et al.

Like countless other video games – whether on a PC, gaming console, or mobile device – League of Legends has been plagued with cheaters and bots. On top of causing unfairness in the game, aggressive botting and cheating third party software can take up large amounts of precious server resources. Freeing those resources can potentially allow increased reliability and performance benefits. Dealing with this issue can also have an opportunity cost. Developers could possibly have to spend time dealing with cheaters that they could have spent developing new features. While motives leading to cheating in games can vary from competitive gaming to exploitative commercial ventures, cases such as these indicate that there is a substantial amount of money on the line to control the rampant spread of third party software.

Additional Research By: Rachel Johns