Has EA Been Caught Stealing Designs From A Tabletop Game?

Has EA Been Caught Stealing Designs From A Tabletop Game?

EA Phenomic’s upcoming “social” take on Command & Conquer, Tiberium Alliances, hasn’t gathered much good press. Probably because it looks about as enjoyable as punching yourself unconscious. It might be in line for a little more bad press, though, given the similarity between some of its unit designs and those found in tabletop war game Warhammer 40k.

Now, designs looking like other designs is nothing new. It’s how art works, even in video games. Inspiration and homage are rampant. But what EA is being accused of here is straight up theft.

In question are two unit designs for the game’s “Forgotten” faction, the Bombard and Grinder tanks. Eagle-eyed Warhammer fans have noticed that they’re not just similar to vehicles introduced to the tabletop series over fifteen years ago (and to which rival publishers THQ own the video game rights). They’re almost identical.

Below are the units compared with their Warhammer counterparts, the relatively obscure Ork Bonecruncha and the not-at-all obscure Imperial Guard Baneblade.

Yes. Hrm.

While you could make the argument that the game isn’t technically “out” yet, and thus EA has time to change the offending designs, it has been in “open beta” for nearly a month now, so in many ways the damage has been already done.

We’ve contacted EA for comment, and will update if we hear back.

Ork Bonecruncha also plagiarized in new C&C [Reddit]


  • I wouldn’t blame EA Phenomic for this mistake, more the artist who work on the units. Someone must have know that they were direct copies.

  • Yeah thats approaching a Macross/Battletech level of blatant ripoff. Time to send in the Adeptus Arbites… That or just hang it all, decare it heresy & send in the Ordo Hereticus

    Is the Bonecruncha really that obscure? I’m pretty certain that it was the standard vehicle type you got for the ork army in at least 2 of the epic scale games (Both epic 40k & titan legions)

    • I think the fact that it was in the Epic game actually proves its obscure rather than the other way around.
      Also it was the standard vehicle in titan legions. It was battlewagons in the epic space marine box.
      Want to play?

    • Battletech didn’t rip them off, they openly sought the licensing for the unseen’ to which Harmony Gold screwed them over. There is a clear difference.

  • Come on, there’s no need to go demonizing EA on this one. It sucks that it happened and it should be dealt with, but the most logical explanation is that one of the games artists got lazy and should be fired, rather than just painting the story up to look like EA blatantly and deliberately stole the designs.

    • You mean the same “lazy” decision to push what started out as a “multiplayer” CnC into CnC canon and rebadge it as a finale w/ a half assed game system thats smacks of “hold the point” gameplay of another game we won’t mention that has the same licenses as the supposedly “mistakenly stolen” designs? =P

  • Has anyone thought, that due to Phenomic’s work assisting Bioware on Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heros, they may actually have intellectual rights to use said designs?

    • a- different universe to what they got the license with.

      b- GW is very protective of their IP, there would be something on the render screen saying (C) Games Workshop or something.

    • They definitely do not given the models for said tanks have been around 15+ years now. I owned the Baneblade a while back, the Ork kit had been around for Epic (a larger scale table top game than 40k). Games Workshop are notoriously protective of their IP and would definitely *not* give the rights to their most famous, most lethal tank for the imperial guard to the guys who made Command and Conquer.

  • while the battle wagon is epic 40k and thats the old resin baneblade model this is still blatant.

    Ahh EA, how low can you go.

  • GW lawyers will be onto this double quick, don’t worry. They are very dilligent in pursuing their intellectual property rights.

    • That they are. GW will sue the asses of EA quick smart, hopefully their stock plumets and have to sell IP’s to other developers.

  • Yeah some one should give war hammer blizzards number…
    They have only ripped off 90% of everything games workshop have ever done.
    Spacemarine – Terran , eldar – protos, tyrannid – zerg seriously blizzard have you had an original thought ever?

    • There’s homage, then there’s ripoff
      Blizzard v Warhammer is closer to an homage, while similar, they aren’t almost literally the same design

    • Sorry, but when i see the zerg, the first thing i see is Aliens not nids and by that fact nids are in fact a rip off of alien, then theres the old rumor thats only thrown out by die hard warhammer fans that warcraft was ment to be a warhammer game but Games workshop pulled the plug, but then again, warhammer is just a rip off of tolkien who just ripped off every single norse and greek myth we know.

      • You’re kind of right, except for the part where 40k is actually based on Starship Troopers and not the Alien series.

      • Oh wow my mistake, maybe games workshop used a time machine to steal ideas from blizzard in the future and apply them in the past.
        Seriously blizzard is homaging all the way to the bank.
        But they are like soooo original , ea copies a tank yeah call your lawyers , blizzard copy an entire universe eh well it’s just flattery really, they really like games workshop.
        I don’t think so…

    • I’m fairly certain Zerg predate Tyranids, Xenomorphs predate them both, and the concept of a fierce, biological alien race who fight future humans is almost a sci-fi trope these days. So how about you give that some thought before making up bullshit eh?

      • The Tyranids do indeed pre-date the Zerg actually. Starcraft was released n 1998 and 40k was created in 1987. However you are right that the Xenomorphs (the Aliens in the Alien movies) pre-date them both. But you know what pre-dates even Alien? Starship Troopers – the original novel was written in the 50’s.

        Take a look at that link I provided above, it’s a pretty good article.

      • Sorry Steve but GW made the Nids long before SC ever came out =P

        The whole Zergs before Nids however has been an ongoing trollbait/gag the SC crew have been baiting GW fanbois w/ for a long time now though.. rather amusing IMHO

    • I thought this too until I started reading a lot of science fiction and realised that GW had ripped almost all there races from others work.

  • Why are people particularly surprised? Yes, EA went overboard but taking design cues from a fairly limited pool of future tank/fighter/gun etc designs is fair play at this point. How about Avatar? The gunships in that look almost exactly like Starcraft Banshees. On the other hand, James Cameron perfected the cinematic space marine, which itself homaged Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and we can bet the rabbit hole doesn’t end there.

    • Yeah there’s a difference between both 40k & starship troopers having marines in space fighting bug monsters to having identical gun placements on a tank with an identical chassis

    • Hey that rectangle had slightly rounded corners, noone else could have ever thought of that, it was a CLEAR violation!

  • While these look obviously copied, at some point I think basic designs for vehicles are all used up.

    The moment I use a big spiky roller in front, I’m sure some people will scream “hey, that’s inspired and/or copied by GW as an Ork Deathrolla (or whatever it’s name is)”.

    What I do wonder is… what if… what if… the designer did never look at GW for his concepts for vehicles? And thus; He just made something that weirdly enough is really similar.. perhaps cause he had the same source material as the ones who created the things years ago. Yes, that is a stretch but I don’t think it’s impossible. Coming up with a hullcannon and a few turrets isn’t THAT hard. And with that comes practicallity in design thus you’ll end up with similar shapes.

    But that’s just my 2 cents

  • To me the bombard tank design for both 40k and C&C look like tank designs from world war 1 and 2. The 40k isnt so original that it couldnt have been thought up by someone at EA who hadnt seen the 40k one. The grinder one does look like a ripoff though. Hard to defend that one.

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