Orion: Prelude developer says it was forced off Steam by Activision DMCA claim

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The developer of the dollar dinosaur-shooter Orion: Prelude says his game was forced off of Steam by a DMCA takedown request filed by Activision. The problem, he explained in his announcement of the suspension, appeared to relate to a pair of weapons in the game that are quite similar to firearms from Black Ops 3, both of which he immediately offered to remove—an offer which Activision rejected. 

Trek Industries CEO David Prassel said Orion: Prelude was pulled from Steam without any notice from either Valve or Activision. “I never was provided specific examples of assets, or screenshots of what offended them—nor given the chance to rectify or remove any offensive content prior to having our game removed from sale,” he explained. “We assumed which pieces of content [are problematic] based on what they self-labeled of their own as well as community-provided assets.” 

Prassel denied any wrongdoing, but said the weapons will be redesigned anyway—not because the studio is at fault, but simply to get the game back on sale as quickly as possible. He also said that the DMCA filing is inappropriate for this type of claim, because Activision is saying only that the weapons are “too visually” or “artistically similar,” and not that they’re a straight rip.   

“That is *NOT* what the DMCA covers. That is a form of copyright and IP infringement dispute. Their lawyers know this, but filed this anyways. We will be seeking resolution for all damages wrongly inflicted by us FROM Activision via this malicious and overly aggressive tactic,” he wrote. “Our desire to remove said content is purely for our own benefit. We are a small indie team, any minute the game is not for sale during the biggest event is a stake to the heart. Us willing to remove any offensive content and to get it back for sale is to protect our selves, our company and our IP.” 

In a follow-up message, however, Prassel said he would not be taking legal action against Activision, but “will be ensuring that Activision covers for the damages they’ve inflicted.” The takedown notice adds up to “slander and defamation,” he claimed, and worse, caused significant damage by forcing the game off of Steam in the midst of the Summer Sale. “As of yesterday, Activision cut out 70 percent of our profit. My calculations put it at 90 percent today,” he wrote. “What they did is devastating.”

But images circulating on Reddit offer a slightly different and more damning perspective, and a large number of Steam forum commenters are firmly on the side of Activision—encouraged, perhaps, by Prassel’ own harsh invective against them. He also threatened websites “reporting false claims with no verifiable proof or facts,” saying that the studio “we will be seeking resolution [against sites spreading unproven allegations] once we’re done addressing what we’re going to do with Activision.”

 

“I can’t believe that there are gamers who are defending the money-abusing, ♥♥♥-wiping turds that is Activision who walks all over gamers with annual $60 releases, season passes, $15 map packs, doesn’t involve or listen to them in any way,” he wrote. “This is by far the most disappointing aspect and the largest core to the new idea I am developing, scheduled to debut later today. It is now up to the gamers as to whether or not they want Orion, or what we do and what we stand for.” 

Further complicating matters is that Orion: Prelude is actually back on Steam (for half-price, no less, which drops it to 50 cents), while Prassel himself appears to have been banned from it. It’s unclear when or why it was returned, but I’ve reached out to Prassel and Activision for more information and will update if and when I receive a reply.      

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