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Avalanche Studios maintain that Generation Zero is not stolen

Simon Stålenhag
Image from Simon Stålenhag's painting book Tales From the Loop
Simon Stålenhag, Tales From the Loop

Avalanche Studios have found themselves in hot water after fans of prominent Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag found numerous striking similarities between his work and Avalanche's upcoming post-apocalyptic survival game Generation Zero.

The entire hoopla probably wouldn't have been an issue had fans of Stålenhag's work not been congratulating the man for his work on Generation Zero each time a trailer or screenshot made its way online, work which he never actually did.

What he did do long before the game existed was series of paintings, depicting giant robots in the Swedish countryside, with a distinct 80s vibe emanating from characters on the paintings. In case you're a fan of Generation Zero but aren't familiar with Stålenhag's work, then I probably fooled you with a sneaky switcheroo here - the image above is actually his work.

Fast forward to June 2018 and Avalanche Studios is announcing a post-apocalyptic game set in Swedish countryside, with giant robots and an 80s vibe. I distinctly remember commenting on the Vangelis-Blade Runner sounding soundtrack, which further reinforced the 80s vibe.

Stålenhag asked for Avalanche to clarify, tweeting "Every time Avalanche releases a Generation Zero trailer, I have to answer question about if I was involved or if they talked to me about it. It's getting tedious - why don't [Avalanche] answer this time?"

In an interview with Swedish website Svt.se, Avalanche claimed that Stålenhag accused them of copyright infringement, which he says he never did. "I only asked them to clarify my involvement (or lack of) in their giant robots in the 1980s Swedish countryside game", he tweeted. 

In a series of tweets, Stålenhag further clarified that he will not be taking legal action and that "borrowing, referencing and modifying other work is an important part of art", a quote which I personally think deserves to be etched in gold. After all, not every single reference or influence can or should be cited, because it would surely make every artist's book just a book of references, interspersed with occasional painting.

Svt.seComparison between Simon Stålenhag's work and Generation ZeroSimon Stålenhag left, Generation Zero right

However, he also added, "Avalanche knows who I am. We live in the same town. The game director of the GZ follows me on Twitter. I've even met them and briefly worked with them and not once did they mention that they were working on a game set in the Swedish countryside in the late 1980s, featuring giant robots. Well okay, I guess they didn't have to say anything, but the minimally decent thing to do would have been to at least acknowledge the similarities when pointed out."

Avalanche Studios continue to deny any sort of inspiration or influence, direct or indirect, by Stålenhag's work.