Recently, Call of Duty Vanguard debuted a new upcoming operator skin that was hard to miss. It was a “dog soldier,” a skin with the head of the floofy dog and the body of a man. It initially sparked a debate about whether Call of Duty was getting too “goofy” with its skin designs, but now, a different issue has emerged.
Sail Lin, a Chinese artist, claims that the “Loyal Samoyed” skin was directly stolen from their own Samoye Medical artwork that was posted on Artstation two years ago, as part of a larger “Monster Army” concept art series that contains several dog breeds as soldiers but also alligators, tigers and polar bears.
This is not just a simple matter of Call of Duty also doing a “dog soldier” concept with a Samoyed head. As pointed out in a viral comparison post on Twitter, which has now amassed 14,000 likes at the time of this writing, Lin highlights direct similarities between the skin and his own art, among them, a backpack attachment, a similar scarf pattern, a left arm-only elbow pad and a right leg-only pack. And the entire poncho. The Samoyed face is slightly more gray with “combat paint” and has stripped away some of the “medic” designations of the original art, but the similarities are clear.
I reached out to Sail Lin who got back to me and echoed what they said in their original Twitter posting, where they would like a statement from Activision explaining what happened and compensation for their work. I have also reached out to Activision about the situation and will update this if they get back to me.
This is unfortunately something we’ve seen all across the industry at times, where studio artists lifted designs from unknown artists thinking it won’t be traced back. It’s hard to see what else could have happened here, as there are similar “concepts” and there are direct lifts. This does not seem like mere “inspiration” from outside work, but something that does need an explanation and some sort of settlement with the original artist.
We’ll see what happens next. This has become a little bit too viral for Activision to just ignore, and I’m curious if either the Samoyed skin will be removed from the game, or if some deal will be reached with Sail Lin for the likeness. Or, of course, the option is still there for Activision to deny the similarities and try to move past this controversy. But this is something that deserves a response, based on the evidence I’m seeing here.
Update: Raven already has scrubbed the skin from a recent blogpost, but has yet to issue a statement. It seems they’re aware, at the very least, however.
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