Over the past few days, the developers of the Souls-like indie game Bleak Faith: Forsaken have been on the receiving end of accusations of stealing or otherwise plagiarizing animation assets from games like Elden Ring.
Archangel Studios issued a statement mentioning that it has been transparent about purchasing assets from the Epic Marketplace to speed up the development process, albeit only 10% of the game has been outsourced that way.
Since the start of development, Archangel Studios has always been transparent with their community about the use of Epic Marketplace assets. While only 10% of the game has been outsourced in this manner, it has helped speed up the development process immensely. As a three-person studio, it was a vital resource to utilize throughout the four year development. The assets in question were purchased from the Epic Marketplace in good faith and with the understanding that Epic went through the proper vetting and review process before listing them for sale.
That being said, when they reached out to Epic for clarification, the answer they received was unexpected, albeit perhaps not entirely surprising. Basically, Epic trusts that sellers have legal rights to sell the assets, but does not independently verify such claims.
Pursuant to the Marketplace Distribution Agreement, each Marketplace seller represents and warrants to Epic that they have appropriate rights to upload their content. As with any store that hosts third-party content, however, Epic is not in a position to independently verify such rights, and Epic makes no such guarantee to purchasers of the content.
Archangel notes that the assets in question have been removed from the Epic Marketplace and pledged to remove them from its game as well out of respect for their developers and the players.
[The response from Epic] is not satisfactory for us and so we have taken the decision to replace the assets purchased from the store over the next several days. Some changes we included in the recent patches, and more are coming in the next few days. Certainly this has been a huge lesson for us and hopefully other indie creators out there too that assets on these storefronts seemingly cannot be purchased in good faith.
The press release mentions that Archangel is grateful for the reports and hopes that Epic will enact "proper vetting and review protocols" to avoid this situation in the future, as the ability to easily purchase assets is critical to many indie developers. That being said, this may be easier said than done.
Bleak Faith: Forsaken is currently available for PC and you can read our review. PS4 and Xbox One versions are also planned.