A former employee of the mobile studio behind hit title Game of War appeared in court last week after he allegedly stole trade secrets from the company.
Machine Zone is already suing Kabam for the “misappropriation of trade secrets” after it was revealed that the latter may have access to a confidential document.
Now Jing Zeng, who joined Machine Zone in 2014 but left later after clashing with his managers, is facing federal prosecution, according to the Department of Justice's press release. If convicted, he will face a sentence of up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
It is alleged that Zeng downloaded more than 100 files on player behaviour from Game of War before he departed. He then attempted to barter for a better severance package, using the stolen files as leverage.
Machine Zone even reportedly contacted the FBI during these negotiations, with Zeng eventually arrested at San Francisco Airport last week.
The court documents found by The Wall Street Journal claim the files Zeng stole could “provide valuable insight and a huge competitive advantage over other online game providers and competitors”.
[Note: Story updated to clarify nature of prosecution. Machine Zone has not filed a lawsuit against Zeng.]