Czech developer Bohemia Interactive has had a solid 2012 so far. The runaway success of DayZ, the zombie apocalypse themed mod for its military simulators, brought massive mainstream attention to a line of games that has catered to a supportive but small audience. The company is hard at work on both the full version of that game as well as ArmA III, but the company’s smooth seas have grown choppy. Two developers from Bohemia’s ArmA team were arrested for “spying” in Greece.
The two unnamed employees, aged 28- and 33-years-old, were scouting locations for use in the next game on Lemnos, a small island in the Greek archipelago with a small population, some tourist trade, and one military air base. ArmA III’s primary setting, in addition to the Ai Stratis, is Lemnos and the developers were photographing that military base when they were arrested on Sunday under suspicion of espionage.
“We can confirm that two Bohemia Interactive employees, our colleagues and friends, were arrested during their holiday trip to Lemnos,” said Bohemia CEO Marek Spanel in a message on the developer’s forum, “They visited the island with the sole purpose of experiencing the island’s beautiful surroundings.”
“Since its establishment in 1999, Bohemia Interactive has created games based only upon publicly available information. We always respect the law and we’ve never instructed anybody to violate the laws of any country. The same is true for ArmA III. Currently, all our effort goes towards supporting the guys over there, as well as their friends and families affected by this difficult situation. We sincerely hope that this is an unfortunate misunderstanding of their passion as artists and creators of virtual worlds.”
The arrests may be more than just a misunderstanding. In 2011, the Greek government protested Bohemia’s use of Lemnos in ArmA III, claiming that its appearance in a war game might interest the tourist trade that keeps the island’s miniscule economy running. The game could also pose a security threat by realistically recreating the terrain.
ArmA III definitely has the potential to reach a wider audience than past entries in the series. The popularity of DayZ drove sales of ArmA II, necessary for playing the mod version of the zombie game, up a purported 500 percent in May.
CTK reported on Tuesday that the men have been transported to the island of Lesbos where they will be interrogated by a Greek prosecutor. The Czech government’s Greek consul Blanka Kovacsova is working to help the developers.