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Russia’s military is being accused of stealing video game characters from ‘Atomic Heart’ to promote itself

An installation of a "Z" letter inside the Red Star, one of the most widely recognizable Soviet symbols, is seen in Zaryadye Park in Moscow. Latin script letters "Z" and "V" were first seen painted on Russian military vehicles fighting in Ukraine. Subsequently, it became a symbol of support for the Russian troops inside the country.An installation of a “Z” letter inside the Red Star, one of the most widely recognizable Soviet symbols, is seen in Zaryadye Park in Moscow. Latin script letters “Z” and “V” were first seen painted on Russian military vehicles fighting in Ukraine. Subsequently, it became a symbol of support for the Russian troops inside the country.

Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • The Russian army’s clothing brand was spotted using posters with characters from the game “Atomic Heart.”
  • But the game’s developers told Insider they never gave the Kremlin permission to use their work.
  • Ukraine previously tried to boycott “Atomic Heart,” accusing its developers of having Russian ties.

The official clothing brand of the Russian military has been advertising with posters featuring characters from “Atomic Heart,” though the game’s developers say they never gave the Kremlin permission to use their work.

Russian media outlets on Friday posted footage of an “Army of Russia” store with several such posters on its windows.

—SVTV NEWS (@svtv_news) March 24, 2023

The posters appear to show characters from “Atomic Heart” dressed in the store’s clothing, with the apparel brand’s name written at the top.

The “Army of Russia” brand is owned by a subsidiary of the Russian military and is the Russian army’s main supplier.

However, the developers of “Atomic Heart,” Mundfish, told Insider in a statement on Thursday that it never struck a deal with the Russian military.

“We want to make it clear that Mundfish company did not give permission for the Russian military brand to use any materials from our game ‘Atomic Heart,'” a representative for the developer told Insider in response to queries about the dispute. “We are saddened by what happened, we deny such associations and do everything to stop it.”

The developer said it would take “appropriate action” against “any parties who use our materials in an illegal or unacceptable way.”

This dispute over the posters comes just as Ukrainian authorities called for gaming platforms to boycott “Atomic Heart,” which was released on February 21.

 Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, submitted requests on March 3 to video game studios urging them to ban sales of the game. He accused Mundfish of having ties to the Kremlin.

“I do believe neither of these businesses support bloody regime, murders, or romanticizing communism,” he admitted in his tweet.

—Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) March 3, 2023

But Federov’s letters accused Mundfish of being a “Russian studio.”

“As Mundfish has Russian management and offices, there is a potential risk that money raised from the purchase of the game will be transferred to Russia’s budget, so it will be used to fund war against Ukraine,” the letters read.

In its response to Insider, Mundfish wrote that the company’s game development studio is a “Cyprus-based international pro-peace organization with employees around the world and a developer hub in Armenia committed to creating entertainment content.”

The company has “nothing to do with politics,” the spokesperson added.

“Atomic Heart,” a single-player first-person shooter featuring a KGB agent living in an alternate history of the Soviet Union in 1955, is still sold on major platforms such as Steam and the Playstation Store.

A sequel for the game is in the works, Sports Illustrated reported.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense and the “Army of Russia” brand did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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