The gritty shooter game Escape From Tarkov entered its fourth year recently, and it continues to draw in new players every quarter despite still being in open beta. The title is packed with memorable weapons, but one small indie studio is accusing Escape From Tarkov of using a stolen gun design. Unexpectedly, it appears that the gun design wasn’t necessarily stolen by developer Battlestate Games, but rather by the real-life gun manufacturer that licensed the gun to them.
Indie studio Ward B has been sharing highly detailed weapon designs for its upcoming title Oceanic since 2019. CEO Marcellino Sauceda believes one of them – a futuristic shotgun dubbed the EPM28 Mastodon – has reappeared as a weapon in Escape From Tarkov and in real life as the MP-155 Ultima.
Ward B was reportedly contacted by Maxim Kuzin, an individual who billed himself as a “producer of industrial projects” for multiple companies including Kalashnikov Concern. Although he expressed interest in adapting the Mastodon into a real-life gun, which Ward B was apparently quite excited about, he soon went dark and the indie studio assumed the deal had fallen through. However, Kalashnikov Concern unveiled the Ultima on August 21, 2020, without giving credit to the developers. Adding salt to the wound, the company then licensed the new weapon to Escape From Tarkov.
Marcellino Sauceda stated that the two weapons have an uncanny number of similarities including color, general shape, and aesthetic. More specifically, specific elements in the handguard and receiver appear to have been copied from the Mastodon for no utilitarian reason. However, what clinched it for Ward B was a small, L-shaped indentation on one side of the Ultima that the indie studio used as a visual motif on multiple Oceanic guns.
When Ward B attempted to contact Maxim Kuzin about the proposed collaboration, he did not reply, leading the studio to assume the weapon design had been stolen. After tensions continued to heat up, Maxim Kuzin eventually stated that he worked with another designer from Russia to design the weapon from scratch and then licensed the new creation to appear in Escape From Tarkov.
Kalashnikov Concern has begun taking preorders for the MP-155 Ultima, which is priced at $1,700 USD / £1,300. The indie studio has given up on a formal legal case due to the complexities of an American company taking action against a Russian one. As of writing, Marcellino Sauceda states that he simply wants to raise awareness that Ward B’s work is now on display worldwide without credit.