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Activision gets dino-shooter Orion pulled from Steam over allegedly stolen assets

Call of Duty weapon assets seemingly appear in indie game

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Trek Industries’ open-world sci-fi shooter Orion has been pulled from Steam, thanks to a DMCA takedown request, according to the game’s developer. The game allegedly uses certain assets from Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

David Prassel of Trek Industries posted an update to one of the studio’s other games on Steam, Orion: Prelude, saying Orion (aka The Orion Project) was pulled from sale after a copyright claim.

Prassel cites a portion of the takedown request in his post, which says the notice was issued "on behalf of Activision, who alleges that the game Orion uses weapon art content from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The weapon art in question includes the M8A7 rifle, the Haymaker rifle, and the Bal-27 rifle."

Orion was pulled without advance notice from Activision or Valve, Prassel said, in the middle of Steam’s ongoing sale. Orion was being sold for $0.49, down from its regular price of $0.99.

In an email to Polygon, Prassel said the game’s takedown has "caused monumental damages to both revenue and brand to Trek Industries by wrongly slandering and defaming us by accusing us to be thieves."

Prassel calls the claim "erroneous" and says the developer is not aware which Orion guns are allegedly using weapon art content from those two Call of Duty games. Prassel did offer a pair of images with weapons from Black Ops 3 and Orion, including these auto rifles, portions of which appear similar:

A poster on Reddit offered the following comparison of a pair of guns from the Call of Duty games and Orion, including the above rifle, parts of which bear a striking similarity.

Some of those images of Orion come from a recently released YouTube video titled "Every Man’s Sky." It’s not clear which assets are currently in the game that was available on Steam prior to Orion being taken down.

Here's another comparison of the guns in question:

Polygon contacted Trek Industries’ David Prassel for comment, and received the following statement via email:

The sight is the only similarity we can see. Even if it was a 1:1, that's not enough for a design infraction, even by legal standards and by a significant amount.

And the sight is just a futuristic M1 Garand, so either way both are ripping off a real world property, the only thing that could actually hold up and is the only one without a dog in this fight.

If anything you can argue the gun on the left is different enough, no gap on the rail, no racking bolt, missing bolts on the upper, the markings, even the actual body of the gun is quite different, the rails and front sights look very similar to the M14.

Regardless, an invalid and malicious act from Activision on wrong or non-existant [sic] evidence. They are are multi-billion dollar company coming over what is currently a 50 cent game, without contacting us or requesting anything of us NOR providing any specific assets or images of the offensive content to begin with

That being said, if our community finds our weapons or content offensive we are of course always listening and will integrate feedback/suggestions based on such. If you want weapons changed, we are a developer that reads what you write. This is where we are most different when compared to Activision.

Polygon has also reached out to Activision, and is awaiting a statement.

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