Over the weekend, Dr Disrespect's gaming studio MIdnight Society came under fire after Twitter user and Twitch streamer inhuman posted a Tweet revealing that Midnight Society was using a screenshot from Cyberpunk 2077 as a background image on their website. The image stirred up controversy since it appeared to be the Midnight Society team stealing artwork for their site.
Studio Head for Midnight Society Robert Bowling quickly replied to the tweet with an explanation. According to Bowling, the image was uploaded by mistake, with the team accidentally uploading the image from the Cyberpunk trailer rather than their intended image.
Bowling, who previously worked at Infinity Ward, stated in a reply: "This has nothing to do with Cyberpunk. One of our web engineers pushed an optimization that was meant to change to fallback image for the video on the website and accidentally uploaded the incorrect image (this frame from the Cyberpunk trailer)."
Even after this explanation was published, many people cried foul in the comment section underneath the Tweet and on internet forums like Reddit, where the lifted image went viral. The backlash was further fueled by the unpopular move last week when Dr Disrespect announced a series of NFTs that provide exclusive early access to his upcoming Battle Royale title. NFTs have gained a negative reputation in the gaming and art community, in part because the technology has been used by some nefarious individuals to steal art.
It is a relatively normal practice for website engineers to have placeholder images they don't own the copyright to in the planning stage of a webpage, with the intention being to replace those with original artwork before publication. However, the publication of such an image, even by accident, can still cause controversy, as we saw in this case.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.