The developer behind Orion: Prelude says Activision had Valve pull his game from Steam over allegedly stolen guns.
Trek Industries boss David Prassel said he received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request from Activision after Orion had been removed from Steam. (At the time of publication, Orion is available to buy from Steam for 39p.)
Video game publishers often use DMCA takedowns to have videos pulled from YouTube, but the suggestion here is they're also able to use it to have games pulled from Steam.
Prassel said Activision alleges Orion uses weapon art lifted from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, specifically the M8A7 rifle, the Haymaker rifle and the Bal-27 rifle.
He published two comparison images to highlight the differences.
"The sight is the only similarity we can see," Prassel said. "Even if it was a 1:1, that's not enough for a design infraction, even by legal standards and by a significant amount."
All this amid the Steam summer sale, Prassel pointed out.
"What this means is that Activision has maliciously and erroneously used a DMCA request to aggressively attack a small, independent development team during the BIGGEST Sale Event of the entire year, the Steam Summer Sale," he said.
Prassel was so incensed that he called into question Trek Industries' future on Steam. But some people have pointed out that Activision may in fact have a point.
First, some background. Orion has a troubled history, and has gone under a few different names over the years. Before Prelude there was Orion Dino Horde, which itself was a re-release of Orion Dino Beatdown. Some say these name changes were an attempt to scrub negative user reviews from Steam and Metacritic. (Eurogamer reported on the Orion review scandal back in 2013.)
Trek Industries, which appears to be a rebrand of the original Orion developer Spiral Game Studios, has also been dogged by accusations of asset stealing, specifically from Natural Selection 2 and Primal Carnage.
Back to current events, and some believe the similarities between the weapons in question are striking. Here's another, community-created image that focuses on the gun sights.
And here's another:
Of course, at first glance, most weapons in military sci-fi shooters look similar to each other, but some say it's a bit rich of David Prassel to play the victim when the controversial developer has been accused of stealing assets in the past.
And some have even suggested Prassel's comments may be a part of a misguided publicity stunt designed to drum up interest in Orion during the Steam summer sale event. These people point to Prassel's multiple videos on the subject on Trek Industries' YouTube channel, and his attempt to spark some Twitter hashtag campaign into life.
In his latest update on Steam, Prassel said the artist responsible for the weapons in question "feels absolutely horrible" and is remaking the weapon "regardless of what I do about Activision or how we proceed".
"So no matter what happens going forward, that weapon will be visually different."
Meanwhile, Prassel is sticking to his guns, and suggested he's willing to take on Activision in this case.
"What they are alleging is that our very own, separately created content is 'too visually' or 'artistically similar'. That is *NOT* what the DMCA covers. That is a form of copyright and IP infringement dispute. Their lawyers know this, but filed this anyways.
"We will be seeking resolution for all damages wrongly inflicted towards us FROM Activision via this malicious and overly aggressive tactic."
Both Activision and Steam are yet to comment.