Recently, Call of Duty Vanguard released a new upcoming Operator skin that was hard to miss. It was a “soldier dog”, a skin with the head of a flaccid dog and the body of a man. This initially sparked a debate about whether Call of Duty was getting too “clunky” with its skin designs, but now a different issue has arisen.
Sail Lin, a Chinese artist, claims that the “Loyal Samoyed” skin was directly stolen from their own artwork Samoye Medical which was posted on art station two years ago, as part of a larger “Monster Army” concept art series that features multiple dog breeds as soldiers but also alligators, tigers, and polar bears.
It’s not just a simple matter of Call of Duty also doing a “dog soldier” concept with a Samoyed head. As noted 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 her own art, including a backpack accessory, a similar scarf pattern, a left elbow pad for arm only and bag for right leg only. And the whole poncho. The Samoyed face is slightly grayer with “combat paint” and has removed some of the “medical” designations from the original art, but the similarities are clear.
I contacted Sail Lin who replied to me and echoed what they said in their original Twitter post where they would like a statement from Activision explaining what happened and compensation for their work . I’ve also contacted Activision about the situation and will update if they get back to me.
This is unfortunately something we’ve seen occasionally across the industry, where studio artists bring up designs from relatively unknown artists thinking they won’t be tracked down. It’s hard to see what else could have happened here, as there are similar “concepts” and direct lifts. This doesn’t appear to be a simple “inspiration” from outside work, but something that needs an explanation and some sort of settlement with the original artist.
We’ll see what happens next. It’s gotten a little too viral for Activision to ignore, and I’m curious if the Samoyed skin will be removed from the game or if a deal will be struck with Sail Lin for the likeness. Or, of course, the option is always there for Activision to deny the similarities and try to move past this controversy. But it’s something that deserves an answer, based on the evidence I see here.
Update: Raven has already rubbed the skin from a recent blog, but has yet to issue a statement. It seems they are aware, at the very least, though.