New Stellaris Mobile Game Pulled After Discovery of Stolen Halo Artwork

"I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite game on the app store." -- Doom Guy, 2019

Paradox Interactive today announced, published, and then hastily unpublished a new mobile game based on its immensely popular 4X strategy title Stellaris. The new release, Stellaris: Galaxy Command, was found to contain stolen Halo 4 concept artwork during its brief window of availability on iOS and Android.

“We have learned that artwork inside Stellaris: Galaxy Command was taken from another source,” reads a statement posted to the game’s official Twitter account. “We are immediately removing this content from the game and we are deeply sorry to our fans and to the affected creators.”

Galaxy Command was developed by Hong Kong mobile studio GameBear, rather than at Paradox, as was the case with the original Stellaris and its various expansions. “We trust GameBear to make things right for Galaxy Command and we will work closely with them to ensure this game meets the high standards our players deserve. We’re sorry this happened, and we will do better.”

There’s no denying that Galaxy Command‘s background artwork (below, left) is functionally identical to the Halo 4 concept artwork on the right, which is proudly featured on the Artstation profile of 343 Industries technical art director Kenny Magnusson. The Halo series’ trademark Scorpion tanks even retain their “UNSC” branding in Galaxy Command‘s version, despite (what I’m assuming was) the use of Photoshop’s content aware cut tool to remove the large UNSC dropship.

As you can imagine, the Stellaris fan subreddit is having a field day with this one, with thread titles like “Wtf is this shit. Nobody asked for a Stellaris mobile game,” and “This game has some good artwor… wait.” Sleuths on the forum are even claiming that Galaxy Command is just a reskin of Nova Empire, GameBear’s sole prior release, but since the game is currently unavailable for download, I can’t personally corroborate those findings.

What I can do, however, is sympathize with GameBear. Who among us hasn’t accidentally photoshopped assets from at least one Halo game and then placed those assets into a different game that we were developing under a beloved IP? Can any of us cast that first stone? I know I can’t — half the stuff I post on this website is copy/pasted wholesale from the Halo 2 script.

And it’s not just me! “That game I made where all the graphics were squares? Those were just pixels from the Arbiter’s forehead,” says Fanbyte Features/Trending editor merritt k. Our Editor in Chief, John Warren, once published an iOS game called Frozen Elsa Pregnant Dentist Surgery Makeover that was just pictures of Master Chief he accidentally stole from DeviantArt and packaged together as a mobile game. He went to jail for three years!

And Steven Strom, our Managing Editor, one time they accidentally knocked out and tied up the sole owner/operator of a Dairy Queen franchise in Chunchula, Alabama, and while the guy was unconscious Steven rebranded the whole restaurant to be Halo themed and renamed it 343 Guilty Queen, and then they called all the local newspapers to make sure everybody knew about the rebranding initiative and the big re-grand opening party that Steven said they were gonna hold, but there was no grand re-opening party at all because as soon as the guy that owned the place woke up Steven got freaked out and ran outside and got in their Ford Fiesta, but they popped the clutch accidentally while the car was still in reverse and smashed into the hair salon in the strip mall across the street, and even though nobody was hurt everybody in the hair salon was really shook up and traumatized and Steven had to work in the back washing dishes until all the repairs were paid for. Stuff like this happens all the time.