Video game designer ordered to delete Montreal metro scene

A local amateur video game designer is in trouble with Montreal's public transit authority after setting a scene for a first-person online shooter game in Berri-UQÀM metro station.
A scene from online first-person shooter game Counter-Strike Global Offensive is set in Montreal's Berri-UQAM metro station. (Screenshot of Counter-Strike Global Offensive)

A local amateur video game designer is in hot water with Montreal's public transit authority after setting a scene for a first-person online shooter game in Berri-UQÀM metro station.

Game and map designer Diego Liatis said he created the scene for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to offer "a new gaming experience representing one of the most famous places" in Montreal.

The game, released by Bellevue, Wash.-based Valve Corporation last August, allows users such as Liatis to create custom maps or scenes to share with others.

Liatis said he had been working on his project, using Valve Corporation's open-source software, for nine months. He said he consulted the STM and was surprised to receive a cease-and-desist letter from the transit agency.

"They changed their mind two times," Liatis said.

"If I had been Ubisoft or another big company maybe paying for the rights, would they have changed their minds?"

Toronto lawyer and game developer Robert Trifts said the STM may have a case for trademark violation, since the game clearly shows logos and other intellectual property.

However, he said he believes there may be other motives for ordering Liatis to cease and desist.

"Diego’s not making money off of this," he said.

"No one’s losing any money in the City of Montreal about this, so what’s this all about? ...It seems to me that they’re concerned there may be some political blowback," he continued.

Liatis said his game map is not completed, though a teaser of it was uploaded to YouTube on Jan. 16.

He said he’s trying to gain support online and through the media. He is also consulting with a friend who worked with him on the project to decide whether they will go to court, if need be.

The STM said it "does not comment on the legal notices it sends to third parties to remind them they cannot use its brand without permission."