ZeniMax promises 'a proper resolution' after using Elder Scrolls Online fanart in a paid skin without permission

The Elder Scrolls Online Mercymother's Body Art skin
(Image credit: ZeniMax Online Studios)

ZeniMax Online Studios says it is working toward a "proper resolution" for an Elder Scrolls Online fan named Relan Daevath after Daevath's artwork was used, without attribution or permission, in the Mercymother's Body Art skin in the game's Crown Store.

"I am a bit shocked," Daevath wrote on Tumblr. "19 july 2020 i posted this fanart with Sotha, Vivec and Almalexia. Now I see my very version… in an ESO crown skin.

"Should they... well... say to me something? 'Hello' or 'We'll sell your art as an in-game skin, you are so wonderful Relan Deavath, come and get your NOTHING AT ALL you are welcome, kisses'."

There doesn't appear to be any question that it is Daevath's work in the skin. This is their original image of Sotha Sil:

(Image credit: Relan Daevath)

And this how it appears on the TESO skin:

(Image credit: ZeniMax Online Studios)

Even the detail work is the same—look at the markings on Sotha Sil's headdress, for instance, or the way his beard curls up between his thumb and forefinger. It's virtually identical, and while Daevath acknowledged that all rights to the likeness belong to ZeniMax, using it like this without even notifying the artist is "not very nice," they said.

"I would be flattered by such an assessment of my work if I were asked," they wrote. "But I wasn't."

ZeniMax did, however, effectively confirm the use of Daevath's art in the skin on Twitter. "We are aware of the situation with the ESO Fan Artist," ZeniMax tweeted on the official TESO account. "It was never our intention to include any community fan art without proper credit. We are in contact with the artist and will work with them to make sure that there is a proper resolution."

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Daevath likewise confirmed that the development team had reached out and are now investigating the situation. "Thank you all for your support. It means a lot for a little artist. Elder Scrolls has a brilliant community," they tweeted. "TESO team wrote to me saying they are 'currently looking into this and hope to have an update for you as quickly as possible'. OK, let's wait."

It's unfortunate, but this sort of thing happens from time to time. In 2022, for instance, Capcom resolved a lawsuit with a photographer over its use of at least 80 photographs as textures in games including Devil May Cry and Resident Evil 4, and of course BioWare famously took it on the nose a decade ago for using a stock image from Getty as a photo of Tali. As for how it happens, that's not always clear, but it's definitely not a great look when it comes to light. I've reached out to ZeniMax and Relan Daevath for more information, and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.