Rainbow Six Siege fans did a collective double take last week when Activision shared the next slate of operators coming to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone. Meet Dokkaebi: a “skilled spy and robotics engineer” available in the Season 1 battle pass. Call of Duty’s Dokkaebi immediately drew comparisons to popular Siege operator Dokkaebi: a skilled hacker who disrupts and steals enemy intel.
It’s a pretty close match—enough that nearly every reply to Activision’s Dokkaebi tweet is about their striking similarities. It doesn’t help that pictured behind CoD’s Dokkaebi is a new black-masked skin for Enigma that looks a whole lot like another Korean Siege operator released alongside Dokkaebi in 2017: Vigil. Rainbow Six Siege’s creative director noticed the similarities too, and he doesn’t seem too happy about it.
“Seriously?” replied creative director Alex Karpazis.
(Image credit: X)
That’s what I said to myself, too. To be clear, this probably isn’t a legal issue. The name “Dokkaebi” is a reference to Korean mythological creatures often compared to goblins, so Ubisoft likely has no unique claim over the word, and Activision’s Dokkaebi doesn’t look exactly the same either. This is a crime for the court of public opinion: Where is the line between innocent inspiration and tasteless aping in live service games that are constantly adding faces to their rosters? Because sometimes, overlap is genuinely coincidental and inevitable.
Like, did you know there’s an “Ash” (or sometimes “Ashe”) in Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Paladins, and League of Legends? All five of them are women, two of them have silver hair, two have red hair, and two wear a hood. Is anyone really copying anyone here? You could make a case that Blizzard had League of Legends Ashe in mind when drawing Overwatch Ashe, but they’re pretty different characters otherwise. I think all these studios simply agreed that Ash is a cool name for a tough lady.
But…I don’t think that’s what happened this time. Yes, nobody owns the name Dokkaebi, but if you google the word, the first result is the Siege character. That doesn’t surprise me: It’s a unique name to choose for a character in a western game, and I’ve always enjoyed how well it fits her playstyle as a goblin who infiltrates comms and disrupts the flow of information. Since 2017, Dokkaebi has become one of the most recognizable faces of Siege. Given the other similarities—female tech experts with dark hair and eyewear—it’s obvious what CoD was going for here.
(Image credit: Activision)
Call of Duty doesn’t have a stainless track record with cosmetic originality. Last year, Activision had an actual legal issue on its hands when it discovered the Floof Fury Tracer Pack had plagiarized another artist’s work.
The series also has more naming “coincidences” than other live service shooters, suggesting to me that it doesn’t try as hard as others to differentiate. Of Modern Warfare 3’s 24 launch operators, four have names found in similar games: Doc (Siege), Jet (Valorant), Pathfinder (Apex), and Warden (Siege again). You could chalk that up to there only being so many good single-word codenames for tacticool soldiers. Though seeing what it looks like when Sledgehammer Games comes up with original names, I can see why it’s open to overlap: BBQ(?), Byline(??), Blueprint (???), and Thirst (????) are actual operators you play with right now.
It’s a little annoying to watch a more popular FPS leech off one of my favorite games. But it’s also not a big deal, and the fun I’ve had scrolling through the replies of bewildered Siege fans has been worth it.