A 99 cent indie game has found itself in hot water after a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint from Activision, the publisher of the wildly-successful Call of Duty franchise. Activision claims that Orion, a dinosaur FPS that was recently on sale for 50 cents via Steam, featured weapons similar in appearance to those that appear in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
As a result of the DMCA notice, Valve promptly removed Orion from Steam during the biggest sale of the year, the Steam Summer Sale. Activision says the weapons in question being copied are the M8A7 rifle, the Haymaker rifle and the Bal-27 rifle.
Players and internet sleuths have been putting together images comparing weapons in Orion with the weapons in Black Ops 3 and Advanced Warfare. What they show is that, while some of the weapons do share a number of similarities, Orion's weapons don't appear to be exact copies of guns seen in Call of Duty. Rather, they more often appear to be a conglomeration of various weapon parts seen in Black Ops 3.
Orion developer Trek Industries says the artist responsible for creating the automatic shotgun in Orion that is being compared with a similar weapon from Black Ops 3 will be replacing the weapon regardless of whether Activision is in the right or not. From the developer's standpoint, Activision has no case.
"In the end, what Activision is claiming isn't a valid or legal use of DMCA," writes Trek Industries' David James on Steam. "If they were alleging that we had actually ripped the Black Ops 3 weapons from their game and used them exactly — their shipped meshes, their shipped textures — that is a DMCA 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 by us from Activision via this malicious and overly aggressive tactic."
It's possible Orion might not return to the Steam Store before the end of the Steam Summer Sale, which ends on July 4. James writes on Steam that Trek Industries offered to remove any "offensive" content in response to Activision's legal complaint, but that offer appears to have been rejected.
"They are [a] 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," James writes.
According to James, Activision has 10 days to act by filing a legal complaint. If Valve doesn't receive a legal complaint within that time, Orion will return to Steam.
"We are a small indie team, any minute the game is not for sale during the biggest event is a stake to the heart," James writes. "Us willing to remove any offensive content and to get it back for sale is to protect our selves, our company and our IP."
Activision has yet to officially comment on the matter.