Activision’s latest update for Call of Duty: Warzone will bring the Terminator — both Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 and Robert Patrick’s T-1000 — to the battle royale-style shooter. Also coming to season 4 of Warzone is everyone’s favorite giant floofy dog breed, the Samoyed, thanks to a new skin for Call of Duty operator Kim Tae Young.
Scoring headshots as a Samoyed should be cause for celebration, but an artist says that the “Loyal Samoyed” skin for Call of Duty: Warzone was plagiarized, and based on a concept they created independently more than two years ago. Following that allegation, it appears that Call of Duty: Warzone developer Raven Software has removed images referencing the Loyal Samoyed cosmetic from its website. (The original version of Raven’s blog about Warzone season 4 included two images of the Samoyed. The current version has replaced those images.)
Concept artist Sail Lin uploaded artwork of their character, “Samoye Medical,” to the website ArtStation in December 2019. On Friday, the artist took to Twitter, saying that Activision and Raven Software plagiarized that piece of work without contacting them and without compensation.
“Even though I am also a COD player, I am very disappointed to see my work being plagiarized by a big company like Activision in this way,” the artist wrote. “I have reached out to Activision for an explanation and/or compensation, and hopefully the situation will be settled soon. As an individual artist, I can only do so much, and I have to speak out about this to stop thins like this happening again in the future.”
Sail Lin cited a YouTube video from the channel The COD Inspector that shows content from the Floof Fury Tracer Pack in their accusation. They illustrate clear similarities between the Samoye Medical artwork and the in-game model for the Loyal Samoyed skin.
It’s not clear yet how Raven and Activision plan to address the allegation, other than to currently downplay promotion of the Floof Fury Tracer Pack. A tweet from Raven’s Twitter account from Wednesday that features the Samoyed skin is still up at the time of this writing, and the developer has not publicly addressed the allegation.
Call of Duty: Warzone’s alleged artwork transgression isn’t unique in the world of games. Publishers like Capcom, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Paradox Interactive have been accused of lifting artwork and photos from artists, which is often the result of working with a large volume of assets and with third-party contractors, and not properly vetting the sources of some assets.
Update (Aug. 5): Activision says it has removed the Loyal Samoyed cosmetics from Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty: Vanguard, and has apologized. In a statement to Polygon, the publisher said, “We have the utmost respect for creativity and content creation. We love the Loyal Samoyed, but regrettably we erred in our process and have removed this imagery from the game. We apologize for the misstep.”