In a nutshell: A video game studio claims that arms manufacturer Kalashnikov, maker of the AK-47, stole the design of a weapon that appears in one of its games. But the Russian company has denied any wrongdoing.

Speaking in an interview with IGN, Ward B CEO Marcellino Sauceda says he was contacted by Kalashnikov contractor Maxim Kuzin in early 2020 asking for permission to turn a fictional shotgun—the Mastodon—that appears in its upcoming FPS Oceanic into a real-life weapon.

In exchange, Ward B was promised full credit for the design, its logo on the shotgun, and three of the finished weapons, ensuring plenty of publicity for Oceanic. Unfortunately, the contracts for the deal didn't arrive, and Kalashnikov never got back in touch. Ward B simply presumed that Kalashnikov disagreed with the contractor’s assertation that the Mastodon would work as a real shotgun.

That was expected to be the end of the story, until Kalashnikov announced the MP-155 Ultima on August 21, 2020. It’s based on the MP-155 hunting shotgun, but it has a revamped aluminum and polymer chassis and an onboard computer that shows ammo, a compass, stopwatch, and timer. It also has Wi-Fi and a rail-mounted camera, all of which make it look very video game-like. It bears quite a resemblance to the Mastodon, in fact. Kalashnikov even said the MP-155 Ultima was “inspired by video games” in its marketing for the shotgun.

Sauceda says certain aspects of the MP-155 Ultima make it a blatant copy of the Mastodon. The handguard, receiver, and other elements have the same features, some of which were only put in the game version for aesthetic reasons and have no practical use. But the most telling indicator is the L-shaped indentation above the trigger that Ward B uses as a motif on many of its video game guns.

“The fact that they included this indent is kind of... it’s sketchy, because I kind of feel they have the [Mastodon’s 3D model] and they forgot to exclude that part – because they did remove it on the other side with the bolt,” said Sauceda.

Kuzin claims the deal fell through because Ward B lacked funding and investment to complete the game and the release date was unknown, meaning it was too risky to work with the company. He also claimed Ward B never paid the concept artist behind the weapon, so there was no clear licensing or ownership. The studio says the artist was on a deferred payment plan from the beginning and has now been paid.

Kuzin added that he consulted "another designer from Russia" to create the Ultima's design "from scratch." But what’s really rubbed salt in Ward B’s wound is that Kalashnikov has licensed the Ultima’s design to a different video game, Escape From Tarkov, completing its journey from game, to real weapon, to game, allegedly.