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Activision files DMCA order against indie dev for copyright infringement – UPDATE

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UPDATE — June 30: Trek Industries developer has admitted that they did in fact copy Call of Duty assets in their title and are working hard to remove it from their game.

“Last night I received evidence directly from Activision regarding assets not even mentioned in public yet,” he writes. “Upon receiving this it became immediately apparent that blatant rips were made. While the artist offered to remake any assets at no cost, he has now been fired immediately upon learning this. This will slightly affect production and I will get into that later.”

Their entire new statement is available here.

Original Story:

Activision filed a DMCA takedown notice against Trek Industries’ ORION video game, which has resulted in their title being removed from Steam. Orion is an open world-sci-fi shooter title, but Activision claims that company has used assets that were in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 in their game without permission.

Activision’s request stated that they filed the notice “on behalf of Activision, who alleges that the game Orion uses weapon art content from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The weapon art in question includes the M8A7 rifle, the Haymaker rifle, and the Bal-27 rifle.”

Trek Industries developer took to the Steam Community page in anger over this, but looking at comparison images…they assets look very similar…

cod_orion_comparison

Furthermore, a user on Reddit posted more comparison images, which appears to show the independent developer’s game featuring weapons with the exact same sights as Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3.

orion_guns

The developer claims that they did not use any assets from Activision, but the similarities are hard to pass over. The developer has posted an angry comment on the Steam forum, stating that Activision is “taking away” from their revenue opportunities.

We’ve made Steam our primary platform, but this has put a definite scare into us going forward considering our entire livelihood can be pulled without a moments notice, without any warning or proper verification. I cannot even confirm that the representative from Activision is a real person as absolutely no results pop up in any of my searches.

We have worked VERY hard for many years to not only ensure our community and products were great and supported, but we made sure that we were doing a great service to Steam as a platform and programs like Early Access. This is extremely evident in any of our Product reviews.

We need everyones help and support to rectify this immediately as this erroneous claim has already costed what is a very small team a significant amount of money and we need it remedied ASAP so we can get back to work on real content, something that Activision should take note of.
#OrionNeedsYou

Activision has not issued a statement about this yet.

Valve sent the developer this full comment regarding what was happening:

*REDACTED*, on behalf of Activision, alleges that the game Orion uses weapon art content from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The weapon art in question includes the M8A7 rifle, the Haymaker rifle, and the Bal-27 rifle. Use of this weapon art content without permission infringes Activision’s copyright in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. https://www.activision.com/games/call-of-duty/call-of-duty-black-ops-3,https://www.activision.com/games/call-of-duty/call-of-duty-advanced-warfare.

As a result, we have removed your posting from Steam.

Valve follows the procedure set forth in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA is a United States copyright law that governs online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. When we receive a DMCA notice, Valve must take down allegedly infringing copyright materials; otherwise Valve could be subject to a claim of copyright infringement.

SOURCE: Steam

Activision

Activision issuing “hardware bans” to thwart Warzone cheaters

Activision have confirmed that they are handing out “hardware bans” to banned cheaters who keep making fresh accounts.

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Call of Duty Warzone gameplay

Cheaters and hackers have plagued Call of Duty: Warzone since its launch, but on top of account bans, Activision has confirmed that they are issuing hardware bans to thwart repeat offenders.

Cheaters have been a thorn in both players’ and developers’ sides since Warzone launched in 2020. It has been common to run into players blatantly wall-hacking and aim-botting, ruining the game for casual players and pros alike.

Raven Software has been providing regular updates on how many cheaters have been banned, and Activision recently confirmed that 475,000 permabans have been issued since Warzone’s launch. The likely reason why this number is so high is that Warzone is free-to-play. It’s widely believed that even if a cheater’s account gets banned, they can simply create a new one and carry on as if nothing happened.

Activision is aware of this issue and player’s concerns and released an in-depth update on their anti-cheat progress on April 12.

Because so many players have been concerned that account bans are ineffective, Call of Duty staff responded to this, saying that “Removing cheaters and taking away their ability to move to alternate accounts is a key focus for the security teams.”

They confirmed that if you’re cheating, not only could you be unknowingly downloading malware to your system, you could also receive a hardware ban.

To make sure players don’t keep creating fresh accounts to cheat with, Activision said, “We do issue hardware bans against repeat, or serial, cheaters. This is an important part of our effort to combat repeat offenders.”

This means that players who receive a hardware ban will be permanently locked out and won’t be able to simply create a new, free account and go back to their cheating ways.

Helicopters flying to Warzone's Verdansk Stadium

Activision also confirmed that not only are they targeting individual accounts with cheats installed, but also “the commercial market of cheat providers and resellers.” They revealed that they have recently banned “45,000 fraudulent, black market accounts used by repeat offenders.”

Cheaters will likely still make their way into your Warzone sessions, but Activision is making sure it’s continuously more risky and difficult to do.

In the meantime, you can check out our guide on how to spot cheaters in Warzone so you can assist Activision by reporting these players.

Image Credit: Activision

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Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate

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A new report states Activision Blizzard will no longer lease its office space in Santa Monica and are actively searching for a new HQ location.

DoTEsports reports that Activision Blizzard and Treyarch have ended their lease at their Santa Monica HQ offices. The company has had the office under their lease for more than a decade.

Per the new report, the teams that work in those spaces will work from home until further notice.

The company is reportedly in search of a new space. An internal memo, which was sent to staff and obtained by DoTEsports, states the company is actively looking for a new office space in the Santa Monica area.

We have narrowed down the search for our next office location to several properties in the Santa Monica area and we hope to finalize our plans in the coming weeks,” the internal company communication said.

Activision employees have been working from home since March 2020. As of now, the company says they’re on track to return to office by September 1, 2021. The timeline remains unchanged.

Activision’s main headquarters was located in the Santa Monica office on Ocean Blvd in California. Treyarch’s studio space was located right next door to Activision Blizzard HQ in Santa Monica on the first floor of an office building. The two used those buildings for over 10 years now, and are now up for rental and purchase.

Activision has not commented on this information as of now.

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Investment group calls out Activision for CEO payout

Activision Blizzard’s CEO continues to rake in bonus after bonus, and now investment firms are questioning the decisions.

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An investment firm, CtW, issued a statement report directed at Activision for upcoming bonus pay for their CEO, Bobby Kotick, which is valued at a remarkable $200 million.

The report states that an SEC filing and agreement between Activision Blizzard CEO and the board of directors of the company will allow the CEO to receive a bonus pay of $200 million at the end of this year.

Per the investment group, as released to GameSpot, a loophole created within Bobby Kotick’s employee agreement allows him to claim full bonus payout for previous years regardless of the company’s performance. This loophole is described in the “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive” provision in Kotick’s employment agreement. He can receive a full performance equity payout from previous years – 2017 and on. That is valued at almost $200 million, which is set to be paid out in cash upon the end date of the incentive provision.

Investment group CtW issued a scathing statement over this, as the company just this week laid off less than 2% of its workforce, which is less than 190 people for “restructuring” purposes. The lay offs impacted Activision Blizzard esports department, alongside the company’s King division.

While the increase in Activision’s stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO,” director of executive compensation research, Michael Varner, said. “There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company’s stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick’s leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions.

Bobby Kotick already makes $30 million a year from Activision thanks to his base salary and bonus yearly pay. He’s one of gaming’s highest paid executives. Activision continues to report record profits with 2020 being the company’s biggest year yet.

Activision has not commented on the latest developments on this payout.

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