Apex Legends Controversy: Indie Studio Says Respawn's Latest Hero "Rips Off" Their Work

Apex Legends Controversy: Indie Studio Says Respawn's Latest Hero "Rips Off" Their Work

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NOWWA (Now, Winners Announced), the indie team behind upcoming hero shooter BulletVille, has voiced displeasure with Respawn over what the team says is a rather blatant copy of their indie game's main character.

Apex Legends' latest hero, Fuse, is on the way with Season 8, but for studio NOWWA, there will be no fanfare. The indie team has suggested something is suspicious about Fuse's design, citing how similar he looks to BulletVille's frontman, Hunter. One look at the comparison image below may lead one to think it's a harmless coincidence, and perhaps it is, but NOWWA suggests there's more to it than that.

The similarities, as indicated by the indie outfit, include both characters sporting the following physical attributes:

  • An eyepatch
  • A biker attire
  • A skull belt
  • A mechanical arm
  • A mustache
  • A belt of grenades
  • Gloves
  • A necklace
  • A vest jacket with a circular symbol on the back
  • Leg holsters
  • A red/grey color scheme
  • A characteristic grey stripe of hair

Both characters also use a rocket launcher as one of their signature weapons. The team spoke with the EA Originals team in early 2020 about BulletVille possibly launching under the publisher's "indie" banner, and later playtested the game for the EA Originals team in October and November of 2020. On top of that, Hunter was first shown publicly way back in May 2019 on Twitter and then again in June 2019. This timeline, NOWWA says, refutes any ideas that Respawn came upon the character first.

Soon after Fuse was announced this past Monday in a Season 8 trailer, NOWWA reached out to their contact at EA Originals. According to NOWWA's Communications Manager Nicola Maglio, EA "didn't seem to think there was an issue." Maglio added that the studio has not yet reached out to Respawn. "We are afraid that, as a small indie game producer whose game hasn’t been launched yet, we’ll be called a ripoff of Apex Legends, which is certainly not true." 

As for how the team wants this resolved, Maglio said they are "currently considering options with our lawyer." We've also reached out to EA and will update this story should someone at the publisher provide comment. 

If you're unfamiliar with BulletVille, this official trailer does well to introduce its cast of characters, including the now-controversial Hunter and several others.

About the Authors

Mark Delaney Avatar Image
Mark is an editor at GameSpot and a Boston transplant now biking across Portland, Oregon. He especially enjoys covering battle royale, horror, and sports games. He spends his free time with his family, marathoning HBO, and advocating for animal justice.