Ubisoft, creator of the online tactical shooter Rainbow six: siege, has reportedly been using the artwork of a VFX artist and graphic designer without permission for over six years. This case of artist theft is unfortunately not an isolated incident in video games and would be especially concerning if it happened on Ubisoft’s part.
The game developer has come under fire in recent weeks for its controversial stance on non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Ubisoft’s announcement that it would incorporate NFT into future titles was met with widespread disapproval from gamers, who viewed the decision as exploiting a new form of unregulated currency. NFTs have been criticized for their environmental impact and for the ease with which they can be replicated, lost or stolen. Ubisoft and other studies have suggested that, in games, NFTs can be bought or earned in game tokens, but critics have pointed out that these problems would continue to exist for NFTs in a video game. However, it seems that this is not the first time that Ubisoft has had problems with digital artists.
Twitter user Sam Blye has shared information, claiming that Ubisoft has stolen artwork that he created. Blye, who is a VFX artist and graphic designer, shared a video containing two digital images side by side for a “glitch effect”. According to Blye, this glitch effect was used by Ubisoft without his permission or without compensation. According to another Twitter user, Rogue-9, Ubisoft has been using this effect for six years, since the release of Rainbow six siege. Blye was, understandably, quite outraged by this use of her art without permission.
Ubisoft’s misuse of foreign intellectual property is irritating enough, but the company has also come under fire for working conditions and business practices. This has drawn much criticism of Ubisoft from former employees and industry observers. However, beyond its business practices, Ubisoft has come under fire for the direction of its games. In addition to NFT’s decision, Ubisoft has also tried to steer its intellectual properties further towards the video game-as-a-service model, which was strongly disapproved of by gamers.
This negative news comes at an especially bad time for Rainbow six from Ubisoft. The latest installment in the series, Rainbow Six Extraction, will be released in January 2022, but so far it has had a negative reception. The fact that another Rainbow Six game is embroiled in its own controversy does not bode well for the IP image. Hopefully Blye will be compensated for Ubisoft’s use of his artwork, if that’s true.