ZeniMax issues apology after selling Elder Scrolls Online fan art without permission
Elder Scrolls Online developers at ZeniMax have issued an apology after using fan art as part of a new cosmetic pack available for purchase in-game, all without permission from the original artist.
Video game developers haven’t had the best string of success in recent months when it comes to properly giving credit where it’s due. Just recently Activision was involved Call of Duty controversy as a new skin almost made its way into the franchise, one that took directly from concept art found online. Now, ZeniMax is under fire for doing much the same, though with Elder Scrolls at the heart of the drama.
Tumblr user ‘relan-daevath’ first shared some Elder Scrolls fan art back in 2020. The striking work focused on three different characters from the game’s lore, Sotha, Vivec, and Almalexia. To their own “shock,” some of this original art now features in Elder Scrolls online directly.
By visiting the Crown Store, ESO’s virtual shop, players can purchase the Mercymother’s Body Art cosmetic pack. It’s in this particular bundle that the original artwork now appears, applicable as body tattoos for custom characters in the MMO.
“Should they… well… say [something to me]?” the artist questioned on social media, wondering how their work made it into the game without anyone asking for permission or giving a heads up. Assuring they still have all Photoshop Documents and “proof the art is [theirs],” the creator was left unsure of their next actions.
“What should I do? Just yell in anger I think,” they said. Thankfully, the community member didn’t have to wait all too long to figure out the next steps. As the post blew up online, it quickly made its way onto the radar of key developers, who soon addressed the situation on social media.
“We are aware of the situation with the ESO fan artist,” the official ESO Twitter account shared on April 10. “It was never our intention to include any community fan art without proper credit. We are in contact with the artist and will work with them to make sure that there is a proper resolution.”
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The original creator verified as much, sharing on their own end that the ESO team had indeed reached out. They are “currently looking into this and hope to have an update as quickly as possible,” the artist shared on Twitter.
Exactly what the resolution might be, however, remains unclear for now. Given the assets weren’t simply featured in the game on NPCs, for instance, but actually purchasable items being sold for real money, things are a little complicated.
As a result, many in the replies have been demanding ZeniMax provide fair compensation to the artist for the in-game sales. “No matter what, please compensate the artist, at least for the stress this situation has caused them,” one player chimed in.