Indie Dev Accuses Russian Arms Manufacturer Kalashnikov Of Stealing Its Shotgun

It's hard enough being an indie dev, even one staffed by industry vets of such franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, and Destiny like Ward B. So when a Russian arms manufacturer came knocking and proposed a marketing partnership that could inject some much-needed capital into your game, Ward B jumped at the chance.

Since 2019, Ward B has been working on a game called Oceanic, a futuristic first-person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth where global warming has caused ocean levels to rise catastrophically (hence the name). As a shooter, guns will play a big part in Oceanic's gameplay, and Ward B loved showcasing Oceanic's guns to generate hype for the game.

One of those guns was the EPM28 Mastodon, an energy shotgun that has a clip of batteries instead of a traditional shotgun's shells. The gun looks undeniably cool–cool enough for a contractor representing Kalashnikov to approach Ward B with a proposal. They'd make the EMP28 Mastodon into a real gun kit for their existing MP-155 shotgun, and Ward B would replace the in-game manufacturer of the Mastodon with Kalashnikov Group.

Ward B was initially quite excited about the possibility of this marketing deal, but then the rep disappeared and an official contract never arrived. A few months later, Kalashnikov announced the MP-155 Ultima shotgun, a weapon that at first glance looks different enough from the Mastodon that you wouldn't confuse the two. However, Ward B CEO Marcellino Sauceda says Kalashnikov ripped off his game's gun design.

"They completely stole it," Sauceda told IGN in an interview. Although the overall body shape looks different enough, there are quite a few smaller details that Sauceda points out to show where Kalishnikov started with the Mastodon before ending with the MP-155 Ultima. First, there's the detachable stock design, which Sauceda says is impractical for a real-world shotgun but not for an energy-based weapon with significantly less recoil. Then there are the barrel and attachment rails, which bear a certain resemblance.

But the real sticking point for Sauceda is a small indentation on the left side of the weapon just above the trigger. On the Mastodon, that indentation is where a small selector switch allows the user to change firing modes. On the MP-155, the switch is gone, but the indentation is still there.

“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," Sauceda said, "because they did remove it on the other side with the bolt.”

Kalishnikov naturally denies copying any part of Ward B's design on the MP-155 Ultima.

So what can Ward B do? Not much. “We've dropped the goal of reclaiming our property legally,” Sauceda said. "We came to the point of realization that, due to Kalashnikov Concern being out of the country, filing any official legal action would require us to be present in Russia, which our funding would unfortunately not cover.”

To add insult to injury, Kalishnikov licensed the MP-155 Ultimate to be used as an in-game gun shotgun in Escape from Tarkov. From video games to real-life and then back to video games, the Mastodon has gone full circle.

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