BANDAI NAMCO announced on October 19 that the download of client files needed to access the Gundam Metaverse has been temporarily suspended. The decision likely has something to do with the rumors of 3D CAD data of Gunpla models being leaked to the public, which have been spreading on social media like wildfire over the past day. Bandai commented for ITmedia that they are “currently in the process of confirming the facts.”
The Gundam Metaverse Project was launched by BANDAI NAMCO on October 5, with the vision of creating a futuristic space colony-themed virtual space for Gundam fans to gather and communicate while immersed in the world of Gundam. General access to the metaverse was opened from October 11 and is supposed to last until October 23. However, at the moment, client files needed to access the metaverse can no longer be downloaded.
No official reason for the suspension has been given by Bandai Namco, but preceding the announcement, posts by multiple users claiming to have extracted 3D CAD data of unreleased Gunpla models from the client data and using it to make 3D-printed replicas started gathering attention on social media.
In X/Twitter posts which have since been deleted, users had been indicating that the data in question had not been secured or encrypted, making it easy to extract and use privately. Some of the posts included screenshots of the 3D data and even photos of 3D-printed Gunpla model parts. People had been commenting that the files were left so unprotected that even amateurs could extract them without issue.
With rumors of the data leak spreading among Japanese and overseas communities alike, there has been a certain amount of panic about possible negative outcomes of the incident, such as people suggesting that now, everyone will be able to recreate Bandai-level replicas of yet unreleased models, leading to dupes saturating the market even before the release of official models. Bandai’s intellectual property and knowledge becoming “free access” due to a security error is a point of concern for many.
At the same time, the matter may not be as doom-inducing as some make it out to be. According to reports by users who looked into the extent of the leak, only one Gunpla model was leaked fully, while the rest of the 3D data pertains to other objects in the metaverse. The downside is that the model, the Rising Freedom model from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom, is indeed unreleased, scheduled to go on sale in January 2024.
On the other hand, this does not equal perfect replicas, a one user suggests “People were able to extract it to Blender, so it doesn’t seem to be actual NURBS data. I don’t think it will have such an impact as the data isn’t much different than what you can obtain by doing a 3D scan of a Gunpla model.”
Another user experienced with model kits suggests that, even if possessing data of the individual parts, one cannot make an injection mold without knowledge of the characteristics of resin and flow path design, meaning that one will not be able to make more than a bootleg.
The massive security error this time around also brought attention to Gaudiy, the company collaborating with Bandai Namco to run the Gundam Metaverse Project. Apparently, the company had previously been generating heat for unprofessional behavior when launching a community service for Tsuburaya Animations. As mentioned, Bandai Namco has yet to comment on the topic of the CAD data leaks, so detailed circumstances of how it came to be are unknown at the moment.