Campo Santo’s Firewatch is gorgeous. Set in the Wyoming wilderness during the 1980s, the narrative adventure game puts players in the shoes of a 30-something man named Henry, who spends a summer manning a fire lookout tower in the Shoshone National Forest. Firewatch offers stunning vistas from that tower and elsewhere, and stirs the same emotions that nature’s bounty does in real life, even though it doesn’t have photorealistic graphics.
The beauty of Firewatch — which is augmented by some terrific and easily recognizable graphic design — is perhaps the reason why multiple companies have lifted elements of its art and design for their own use.
The latest instance comes from the cloud computing giant Salesforce, which is, like Campo Santo, based in San Francisco. Salesforce — which has more than 25,000 employees worldwide and a market capitalization north of $75 billion — produced a piece of artwork on Twitter to advertise its “Marketing, Commerce, and Retail Lodge,” a location for marketing events during the company’s annual Dreamforce conference.
Thing is, it appears that Salesforce misappropriated Firewatch artwork for the ad. Campo Santo co-founder Sean Vanaman pointed out the similarities on Twitter with a damning GIF, after alleging that Salesforce was “straight up tracing our shit”:
you can afford to build literally the 2nd tallest building on the west coast -- maybe keep some bucks aside for graphics designers? pic.twitter.com/6aMGJVAaya— Sean Vanaman (@vanaman) November 8, 2017
Vanaman has not yet responded to a request for comment from Polygon, although he’s clearly not thrilled with Salesforce’s ad — let alone the alterations that the company seems to have made to the Firewatch artwork after allegedly stealing it.
“Man, that crappy flag on top of our iconic lookout tower really drives us crazy,” said Vanaman. “We’re a [10-person] company that put years of our life into that image.”
We’ve reached out to Salesforce for comment, and have not yet received a response to our questions — although an auto-reply noted that responses might be delayed because the entire company is busy with Dreamforce 2017, which runs Nov. 6-9.
Firewatch-related copyright infringement came to the fore in June 2016, four months after the game debuted. Olly Moss, an illustrator and graphic designer who created the look of Firewatch, pointed out a Gillette advertisement with design elements bearing a strong resemblance to the style of Campo Santo’s game:
I am usually the last person to call this sort of thing out, but this example seems particularly egregious to me. pic.twitter.com/cYfNebqjV1— Olly Moss (@ollymoss) June 10, 2016
Later that month, a Boston-area Ford dealership apologized after using artwork from Firewatch — the same image of the fire lookout tower that Salesforce appears to have lifted, as it happens — in an advertisement for a sales promotion.
Update: A Salesforce representative told Polygon, “We don’t have anything to add to this story at this time.”