The First Descendant Hit With Destiny Icon Plagiarism Accusations — but There’s Seemingly More to the Story

The First Descendant, a free-to-play co-op focused looter shooter from Korean games company Nexon, is blowing up across PC and console with big player numbers on Steam specifically. But as players debate the rights and wrongs of its ultra aggressive monetization, another controversy has hit the game.

Forbes reported that The First Descendant “is using barely-changed” Destiny 2 icons, and pointed to the remarkable similarities between icons used by developer Bungie for its veteran looter shooter and those used by Nexon for its new looter shooter challenger.

Certainly, the similarities are hard to ignore. One Bungie icon artist tweeted to say it “feels like a great day to mention that Bungie icon artists are a super-crew of talented folks with original ideas and sharp instincts.” But what’s actually happened here?

‘The First Descendant’ Is Using Barely-Changed ‘Destiny 2’ Icons via @forbes https://t.co/rGdbfKNfJX pic.twitter.com/gGKfoTkLk9

— Paul Tassi (@PaulTassi) July 7, 2024

While Nexon is under pressure to explain itself (IGN has asked for comment but has yet to hear a response), fans have unearthed evidence to suggest the root of the problem can be found in an icon database that seems to misunderstand the concepts of personal and commercial use of assets.

Iconduck bills itself as a “free and open-source” database of hundreds of thousands of icons, illustrations, emojis, logos, and flags, and includes a number of Destiny icons Nexon may have lifted for use in The First Descendant.

As spotted by PC Gamer, Iconduck has a Destiny Icons set that includes 204 icons, all open sourced with a Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal license. “All icons can be used for personal and commercial purposes,” Iconduck claims.

This icon set was designed by Tom Chapman, who made the Bray.tech websites among others for Destiny 2. In a tweet, Chapman said most of the icons in the set were “ripped from the font files created by Bungie and its designers.”

“Most of the remainder are designed by Bungie and recreated by me or whoever contributed them to that repo,” Chapman added, before casting doubt on Iconduck itself: “I’ve come to hate open source… I don’t want @iamiconduck to use my work like this.”

It’s worth pointing out that Iconduck also makes available icons from the Pokémon franchise, including Pikachu and Poké Balls, Marvel Avengers icons, famous Batman icons, and plenty more images you’d imagine Iconduck wouldn’t have the rights to make available for people to use for commercial purposes.

There are many other icon databases that include similar sets and make similar claims of their use. Nexon may well have used icons from one of these websites, such as Iconduck, and tweaked them slightly for The First Descendant, but the company has yet to explain its process. If it did, Nexon would then face pressure to explain why it did. Again, IGN has asked for comment.

The First Descendant rekindles memories of Palworld, Pocketpair’s controversial ‘Pokémon with guns’ survival and crafting game that has been accused of “ripping off” ‘Pokémon, but has also been compared gameplay wise to all sorts of titles in the survival and crafting genre.

Generally speaking, The First Descendant is a mash-up of mechanics from various looter shooters already in the market. There’s more than a whiff of Destiny about The First Descendant’s design, systems, and mechanics, but then there’s also a lot of Warframe about it, too. Check out IGN’s The First Descendant review in progress to find out what we think of the game so far.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or confidentially at wyp100@proton.me.

 

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