Just weeks after acknowledging the “fake” of plagiarizing the Floof Fury skin for Call of Duty: Warzone (opens in a new tab)Activision is facing accusations of doing it again, this time with a skin that looks remarkably like a “Variant” in Midnight Society’s upcoming extraction shooter Dedrop.
Variants, in the world of Deaddrop, are players who have purchased the first round of early access passes to the game. essentially NFTs that grant unique visor skins to those who own them. Think Daft Punk but more overtly martial.
“The VisorCortex acts as your identity within the Midnight Society and can be used as your verified avatar inside and outside the community,” the studio explained. (opens in a new tab) in March, before Midnight Society’s game had a proper title. “Variants can sell their Access Pass with their VisorCortex ID attached to forfeit their usefulness within the Midnight Society or trade VisorCortex IDs with other Access Pass holders without losing their Variant benefits.”
Fast forward to this week when Activision rolled out the new Doomsayer skin for Call of Duty: Warzone and Vanguard. The centerpiece of the skin is a glowing pale blue holographic skull under a loose gray hood, which people quickly noticed bears a strong resemblance to a Deaddrop visor skin. And not just any visor skin, but very precisely the one owned by Robert Bowling (opens in a new tab)who before his days at Midnight Society was a community relations manager and creative strategist at Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward.
Bowling seemed to acknowledge the similarities on Twitter, writing – without any obvious context, though it was impossible to miss – “At least name it after me (opens in a new tab).” And there’s no doubt that the designs look a lot alike.
I think @fourzerotwo (Robert Bowling) will be happy to see that Activision just added their own skin in #Vanguard 🤡Maybe not… ->🙃 pic.twitter.com/vZTyWIp2pZAugust 16, 2022
At the same time, and with all due respect, both designs are also, well, terribly generic. Skull masks have been around about as long as skulls (I was a big fan of General Kael (opens in a new tab) watch in Willow), and in the Call of Duty series since 2009. Ghost Mask (opens in a new tab) is not holographic, but the one worn by Specter (opens in a new tab)a character from Black Ops 3 and 4, definitely is, as is Stitch’s “Corrupted Skull” (opens in a new tab)skin. We’re not exactly innovating here, and personally, I don’t think it’s a big leap to see Bowling’s Midnight Society visor skin as a tip of the hat to his days at Infinity Ward, this which inevitably leads to the question of who is really imitating whom.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the details: the bright blue tint, hood, and dark spot atop the skull in Doomsayer’s skin are virtual dead rings for Bowling’s design. And the Floof Fury situation in July – which, at last check, Activision still hasn’t acknowledged plagiarism, or even apologized for (opens in a new tab)– does not inspire great confidence that this is all just a strange coincidence.
I have contacted Activision and Bowling for comment and will update if I receive a response.