The FBI arrested a former manager at Game of War: Fire Age developer Machine Zone on Aug. 20, alleging that Jing Zeng stole trade secrets after learning he was losing his job, according to documents unsealed this week and uncovered by The Wall Street Journal.
The complaint says that Zeng, who joined Machine Zone in 2014, learned of his impending layoff and downloaded files containing proprietary information about user behavior from a company database. Based on information from U.S. attorney Melinda Haag and San Francisco FBI special agent in charge David Johnson, authorities allege that he copied more than 100 files to a company laptop, transferred them to external storage, wiped the laptop and returned it to the company, Agence France-Presse reports.
Authorities arrested Zeng, previously Machine Zone's director of global infrastructure, as he was attempting to board a plane to Beijing. Zeng's LinkedIn profile lists the developer as his former employer.
If convicted, Zeng faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Game of War: Fire Age, a lucrative free-to-play strategy game available on Android and iOS, is perhaps best known for its ubiquitous advertising campaigns that include MMA fighter Conor McGregor (pictured above) and Kate Upton. Its Super Bowl 2015 commercial featuring Upton has more than 10 million views on YouTube.
For more on the technology behind Game of War: Fire Age, be sure to read Polygon's interview with Machine Zone co-founder Gabe Leydon, who explained a system that can translate 1,000 messages into 32 different languages in one second.