Activision Blizzard apologizes for seemingly plagiarizing Call of Duty military dog skin

Update: After a week of silence, Activision has issued an apology for the skin, saying that it will not make it to the game. "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," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Call of Duty news site Charlie Intel.

This is after a Twitter statement by Sail Lin on August 1st, when he said that "Activision has contacted me, and I hope to have a result as soon as possible. Thank you for your concern." Sail Lin hasn't updated since the apology.

Which, combined with removing all the material referencing the skin from Call of Duty's website and social media accounts, is pretty much a neat attempt to sweep the whole mistake under the rug. 

Original Story: "Artist alleges Call of Duty plagiarized a military dog skin."

A fluffy kerfuffle is brewing around a new Call of Duty skin, with an artist accusing Activision Blizzard and, by extension, Call of Duty: Vanguard maker Raven Software, of plagiarizing their work. Raven Software has since removed the alleged plagiarism, the Floof Fury Tracer Pack, from both its social media and YouTube channels. Mention of the skin was also removed from Raven's blog post about the pack, as spotted by Polygon.

Artist Sail Lin posted a comparison and explanation of how the skin pack and their art are similar to several sites. Both depict an (adorable) bipedal Samoyed dog in military-style gear with extremely similar similar shemagh scarf, back-slung open-frame weapon stock, and belt pouch. Both the art and model are done in similar color palette, with a similarly cut overcoat and baggy pants.

“I am the original artist that the upcoming CoD Vanguard Samoyed skin was plagiarized from,” said Sail Lin via Twitter, “Even though I am a CoD player, I am very disappointed to see my work being plagiarized by a big company like Activision in this way. I have reached out to Activision for an explanation and/or compensation, and hopefully the situation will be settled soon.”

Artist Sail Lin first posted their military dog to artstation in December 2019 under the name "Samoye Medical" as part of a series of military dogs called The Dog Army. It also includes designs like a bulldog riot officer and doberman pinscher marksdog.

The Loyal Samoyed skin, part of the Floof Fury pack, are skins for Call of Duty operator character Kim Tae Young. They're odd for a military shooter, but no odder than recent additions like The Terminator and Die Hard skins.

Large game publishers are no strangers to art plagiarism problems. Quality control at outsourced art studios has led to similar problems in the past, even for big names like Magic: The Gathering and The Elder Scrolls Online. If anything, it's a good sign that at least the offending material has been removed from social media.

PC Gamer has reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.