Capcom Accused Of ‘Copying’ Resident Evil Village From Another Game
While there's a decidedly wintery theme in Resident Evil Village (even down to the name of protagonist Ethan Winters), things are heating up at Capcom HQ as the developer is accused of "copying" the game. Since 1996, Capcom has consistently delivered Resident Evil games. Although the first few were confined to Racoon City and its surrounding mountain range, it was 2005's Resident Evil 4 that threw off the shackles and went in a whole new direction.
Since RE4, the franchise has continued to reinvent and innovate with mixed results. Following the success of a first-person revamp and back to basics approach with Resident Evil 7 in 2017, Village continues much of the same themes. The problem is, one movie director has accused the game of ripping off its premise and even copying some character designs.
Why is Capcom being accused of copying Resident Evil Village?
Director Richard Raaphors has accused Capcom of doing a "one-for-one" copy of his 2013 movie, Frankenstein's Army. Posting on LinkedIn, Raaphors wrote, "In 2013 I directed my film Frankenstein’s Army. It’s a crazy monster movie filled with my own creature designs, one of which has been used - completely without authorization or credit in the newest Resident Evil game". There are mild spoilers ahead, but Raaphors maintains a boss battle in Village's factory section is pulled from his movie.
Toward the end of Village, Ethan goes to Heisenberg's factory and faces off against a propeller-headed villain called Sturm. Raapphors says Capcom got the idea from his found-footage horror movie. Speaking to Eurogamer, he added, "It's just the same scene as in my movie, except that in my movie you have to cut loose the fuel tubes. That's the only thing that is missing. But the whole thing is getting into flames, and then it explodes, and then the way it rotates through the camera - it's all the same, really. Even the environments, the whole colour palette. It looks like an animatic for my movie".
Capcom is yet to comment on the claims, but Raaphors is adamant Village was influenced by his game. He said he wasn't aware of the potential copyright issue, however, was alerted by fans after the title's May 7 release. "At first I felt p*ssed", said Raaphors. "Then I felt proud. Now, I see all the reactions and I feel p*ssed again, and insulted. It's so difficult to come up with a great design. It's really hard to actually think about something that communicates as a cool design. It's not just that ideas are floating around that you can grab. It's actually hard labour. Then they just grab it and put it somewhere in the game. It's creative abuse".
Could Capcom get in trouble for copying Resident Evil Village?
Twitter user @CloneKrop threw fuel on the fire in a Twitter thread that includes a side-by-side comparison of Village enemies and those found in Frankenstein's Army. It split the Twitterverse down the middle, with some slamming Capcom and others saying Raaphors and those calling the characters a "copy" are making a massive leap.
Capcom is likely to deny the claims it had any knowledge of the correlation between Frankenstein's Army and Sturm, but it will be interesting to see where Raaphors goes next. In terms of fair usage, you can't trademark any monster with a propeller for a head. Then again, the scene in the movie sees a group of soldiers take out the unnamed monster with a fiery explosion. In Village, Sturm meets his maker in a similar way. Yes, the two characters look similar, but Raaphors would struggle to find any evidence that designers knowingly tried to emulate his monster without asking.
Raaphors said he doesn't want any financial gain from a potential lawsuit, which might have something to do with the fact he doesn't actually own the rights to Frankenstein's Army. Instead, the movie's rights belong to an American finance and distribution company called MPI Media Group. He said he is "exploring" his options and concluded, "If they had asked me, 'hey, Richard, we'd love to have your design in our next Resident Evil, and we will give you a credit or some kind of royalty payment,' I would have been honoured and flattered and proud. It would have been a super positive experience".
Ultimately, it's a fine line between what can be classed as a flagrant rip-off and artistic licence. It's clear that Lady Dimitrescu's daughters are based on Dracula's brides, but you don't see Bram Stoker's estate coming after Capcom. We'll keep an eye on how this one develops.
Images via Capcom | MPI Media Group