Ward B, a small independent game development company, has claimed that Kalashnikov Concern’s MP-155 Ultima shotgun design is a complete rip-off of one of the weapons developed for its upcoming ‘Oceanic’ FPS shooter game.
UPDATE: This story has been updated with comments from the Kalashnikov Concern.
Marcellino Sauceda, CEO of Ward B, told IGN that a contractor by the name Maxim Kuzin, who had reportedly worked for Russia’s largest weapon manufacturer, Kalashnikov Concern, reached out to the studio in early 2020, showing interest in acquiring the rights to one of the concepts the team came up with for a shotgun design, called ‘The Mastodon.’
The two sides apparently came to a verbal agreement that Ward B would lend out its design to Kalashnikov in exchange for being credited for the design. The studio hoped the deal would help them spread their name and attract investors to help achieve their end-goal of releasing their first game. However, the deal was never actually put on paper, and Kuzin disappeared on the developers shortly thereafter. The team assumed Kalashnikov simply turned down the design and continued working on their game.
Half a year later, Kalashnikov announced the MP-155 Ultima, a futuristic-looking shotgun kit, marketed as being inspired by video games. The team at Ward B instantly noticed that the design bore numerous similarities with their original Mastodon concept, yet their name was not mentioned anywhere.
They have since been trying to prove that their work had been stolen. According to IGN’s report Sauceda even has emails showing that Kuzin contacted an artist to rework Ward B’s weapon renders to feature a Kalashnikov logo and backdrop.
The weapon manufacturer, however, claims that its shotgun design is completely original and that they have never heard of Ward B before. Maxim Kuzin, the contractor who initially approached the game developers, also denies any claims of appropriating their design.
The Kalashnikov Concern has even already licensed its MP-155 Ultima design to be used in the popular ‘Escape from Tarkov’ game, essentially meaning that a version of the Mastodon made its way into an actual video game before Ward B ever got the chance to present it in their own ‘Oceanic’ game, which is still being developed.
In the end the 40-person team at Ward B decided not to pursue any legal action, as going up against a behemoth weapon manufacturer half the world away would’ve taken away the precious resources they had intended to use for developing their game. However, Sauceda says they hope that their allegations will at least draw attention, and perhaps get people interested in their project, which has weapon designs good enough for Kalashnikov.
UPDATE: In response to RT’s request for comment, Kalashnikov Concern said the MP-155 Ultima shotgun kit was manufactured and delivered to the arms maker by a third-party supplier, a private limited company named AMA. It further stated that the first time Ward B had contacted Kalashnikov was after the premiere of the prototype of the Ultima at the ‘Army 2020’ International Military and Technical Forum. However, since Kalashnikov was simply the buyer of the kit, it told the game developers to ask AMA directly about their concerns over the IP.
Also, Kalashnikov Concern said that in Spring 2021, it asked AMA to present the results of an examination by the Union of Designers of Russia, which concluded that the design of the MP-155 Ultima body kit was not a rework.
The arms manufacturer further noted that Maxim Kuzin had never been an employee of the Kalashnikov Concern.