Ward B, the developers of upcoming FPS Oceanic, have accused Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov of outright stealing one of their weapon designs for a new shotgun that’s being sold commercially.
In an interview with IGN, Ward B CEO Marcellino Sauceda says that early last year a Kalashnikov rep contacted them, said the company loved the studio’s weapon designs and wanted to collaborate, taking one of Oceanic’s shotgun designs — the Mastodon — and turning it into a real firearm.
Ward B say they were promised full credit, a logo on the weapon and even three of the finished product shipped to their offices. While keen to get the deal done, Sauceda says that when the time came to actually sign contracts, they never showed up, and there was no further communication between the parties.
So Sauceda was surprised to later see Kalashnikov go ahead and release their own “weapon kit” that he feels looks a lot like the Mastodon, only without any of the credit or collaboration.
Here’s what the Mastodon looks like, as designed by artist Gankhulug Narandavaa:
And here’s Kalashnikov’s MP-155 Ultima, which the company even went so far as to say was “inspired by video games” in its initial marketing for the weapon:
While they’re not identical, what leads Ward B to believe the design was stolen — aside from their initial correspondence — are elements of the Mastodon which also appear on the Ultima but “which are decisions that were taken for aesthetic reasons in Oceanic, but have no practical purpose in real life.”
Then there’s this:
For Ward B, the clincher was the inclusion of a small indentation on one side of the Ultima – a horizontal L shape with a small line emerging from the corner (also seen in the gallery above). It’s a tiny detail, but one Sauceda sees as crucial, as the team has used it as a visual motif on not just the Mastodon, but multiple Oceanic guns. “Nothing about this gives the receiver stability, it has nothing to do with it because everything is functioning through the internals,” says Sauceda of that design choice. “The fact that they included this indent is kind of… it’s sketchy, because I kind of feel they have the [Mastodon’s 3D model] and they forgot to exclude that part – because they did remove it on the other side with the bolt.”
In their defence, Kalashnikov rep Maxim Kuzin says the initial deal fell through because the indie game’s tentative funding and payment structures meant there was no clear ownership of the weapon designs, and so they worked with “another designer from Russia” instead.
Ward B have since sent a cease and desist to Kalashnikov, and uncovered what they say are some shady shenanigans where Kuzin tried to buy the Mastodon design directly from the artist. They’ve also had the added weirdness of seeing Kalashnikov licence the Ultima’s design to another video game, Escape From Tarkov. Meaning that, as far as Ward B are concerned, their gun design has managed to be turned into a real gun then end up in someone else’s video game before it had a chance to appear in their own.
You can read the full story, with all its legal shenanigans, at IGN.