Activision steals art for ‘Call of Duty’ dog skin, apologises when called out

Call of Duty publisher/developer Activision is in hot water again, this time for stealing art to create a Samoyed dog soldier skin. Understandably, the artist isn’t impressed.

Activision, the video game behemoth behind the Call of Duty franchise, are no stranger when it comes to controversy. Last year they were dragged into the public eye by a series of allegations regarding sexual discrimination, harassment and a problematic workplace culture.

Later they became embroiled in the ongoing courtroom drama concerning Microsoft’s attempt to purchase them (along with half the other video game studios on the planet).

call of duty dog soldier samoyed
Image: Call of Duty: Warzone / Raven Software

And now Activision, or at least someone in their ranks,  can add intellectual property theft to their growing list of transgressions.

It all started when artist Sail Lin created an oddly adorable depiction of what a Samoyed/human hybrid soldier would look like. It developed into a nasty surprise, when they realised later, the team behind Call of Duty: Warzone were planning on releasing a new character skin that looked almost identical to their artwork.

From there Lin called out Call of Duty and publisher Activision for stealing his work, on ArtStation. Lin also stated that, despite being a Call of Duty player, they were “disappointed” and felt they had to “speak out about this to stop things like this happening again in the future“.

Activision responded through the following statement to Polygon:

We have the utmost respect for creativity and content creation. We love the Loyal Samoyed, but regrettably we erred in our process and have removed this imagery from the game. We apologize for the misstep.

Which is fine, I guess. But, considering that Call of Duty is one of the biggest selling video game franchises of all time, you’d think they could afford to right their wrong by paying the artist for their work; even if they should have sought permission prior to releasing promotional material for the skin.