Escape from Tarkov’s Developers Make a Dumb Plagiarism Allegation

Battlestate Games, the developers of the popular looter shooter Escape From Tarkov, have had a rough week.

Last week, the company introduced the Unheard Edition of Tarkov. At $250, more than three and a half times the price of most major video game releases (and five times more than the base Tarkov version), the price tag alone was enough to get most people’s attention.

However, after the sticker shock wore off, the edition was criticized by the game’s community for two reasons.

First, the edition was accused of being “pay-to-win” because it offered purchasers significant advantages over those who purchased other versions. This included unique weapons, in-game advantages and additional storage.

Second, those who had purchased the game’s old Edge of Darkness (EOD) edition had been promised they would get all future DLC. However, those purchasers will not get access to The Unheard’s features, including a new game mode.

Though Battlestate Games has walked some of it back, the company has doubled down on keeping the mode exclusive to Unheard Edition purchasers. They claim that the new game mode is separate from DLC, so EOD purchasers won’t have access to it.

Needless to say, this has sparked a backlash from the Tarkov community. However, no one seized the opportunity more than Morefun Studios, the developers of the upcoming similar game Arena Blackout: Infinite.

They took the opportunity to promote the upcoming PC release of their game. That sparked what may be the most poorly judged allegation of plagiarism that I have ever seen.

Not the Best Response

Sensing the community’s anger and seeing that many were leaving Tarkov, Morefun Studios took to X (formerly Twitter) to hype up the beta of their game. They offered everyone a chance to “wave goodbye to Tarkov” and join their beta instead.

Battlestate Games responded by saying, “Have a nice 20-minute adventure in the blatant plagiarist game. In and out.”

Fans did not respond well to that to that post.

The post immediately received a “reader-added context” that pointed out the flaws in Battlestate’s plagiarism claims. Others took to X to make fun of Battlestate for the misstep.

To put it mildly, the post has not done anything to heal relations with the Tarkov community and has only drawn more attention to a competitor that has suddenly become very popular thanks to this tweet.

Clearly, this is a moment where silence would have been the better course of action.

Why it was A Mistake

To put it mildly, that post was ill-advised. There are three major reasons they shouldn’t have taken that course.

First, the Tweet did not explain how or why ABI is a plagiarism of Tarkov. Other than being similar in terms of gameplay, the two do not appear to share any assets. In fact, ABI’s predecessor, Action Breakout, has been available on mobile devices for nearly a year. All that Morefun is doing is bringing the game to PCs.

Though plagiarism is not the same as copyright infringement, creating a game that is similar in genre to a competitor is neither. As we discussed back in 2012, the video game industry is rife with similar games. The allegations of being a “knockoff” only arise when the marketing is similar or confusing, which doesn’t seem to be the case here.

For example, Call of Duty, Battlefield and Medal of Honor are three series of games in the modern military shooter category. They often have similar aesthetics and mechanics but are not considered plagiarism because the similarities are tropes of the genre. They might seem nearly identical to an outsider, but fans can see (and debate) the differences.

In short, unless ABI took assets from Tarkov, the game is unlikely to be seen as having done anything ethically or legally wrong.

Second, the allegations reignited discussion about some of Battlestate’s previous brushes with plagiarism. In a Reddit thread discussing the post on X, users looked at two instances where the developers were accused of using outside art in the game or its promotional material.

byu/JanssenDalt from discussion
byu/JanssenDalt from discussion

Though nothing appears to have come from those allegations. The renewed attention on them cannot be welcome.

However, the biggest mistake was simply that it drew attention to ABI.

According to SocialBlade, the ABI Twitter account, which is specific to the game, has gained nearly 27,500 new followers since the post. According to SteamDB, ABI has tripled the number of people who are following it on Steam, growing from 10,000 to 30,000, pushing it into the top 100 most wishlisted games on the platform.

Image from SteamDB

To say that this is an example of the Streisand Effect is an understatement. Not only did the post introduce more people to the game, but it also introduced it to an angry audience that was desperate for a Tarkov alternative.

To put it mildly, it’s an unforced error. While Battlestate Games can still recover from it, there was no reason to both injure themselves and empower a competitor. However, that’s exactly what they did.

Bottom Line

In the end, the post was misguided for three simple reasons: There’s no actual proof of plagiarism, it highlights some of their past controversies, and it got a lot of eyes on a competitor.

This may be the first time I’ve seen someone be accused of plagiarism by a prominent figure and actually come out the other side stronger and better. While it helps that the allegations have no merit, at least not right now, even if they did, it wouldn’t make a difference.

Given how upset many Tarkov fans are with the company, even if it were a provable plagiarism, there’s still a good chance they would jump ship. Yes, plagiarism is unethical, but it’s not necessarily unethical against the consumer.

Given how many fans feel burned by the company, some might prefer an actual plagiarist over Battlestate’s current approach. Fortunately, that’s not a concern fans need to have at this time.

If Battlestate is to recover, it must stop making misguided plagiarism allegations and address the issues its community is bringing to it.

In addition to being a dubious claim, the post also feels like deflection. However, this is one time deflection clearly didn’t work.

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