“Fallout Online Debacle Takes a Turn for the Ridiculous” or “Post Apocalypse Postponed”
It seems that we will never get to see Fallout: Online. Allow me to give you a crash course.
Fallout: A Crash Course (yeah I know I just said it)
Interplay created the original Fallout back in 1997, an RPG that, even now in 2010, is ranked by multiple gaming authorities as one of the best games ever created (PC Gamer’s 7th best game of all time, 2010). This was followed by Fallout 2 just a year later. Then Black Isle (the developer) and Interplay (the publisher) went dark on the franchise. During this time, Fallout 3 was being developed under the working title Van Buren. Interplay went bankrupt, and Black Isle, mid-production, was shut down. The license to develop the third game in the franchise was then transferred to Bethesda Softworks (the Elder Scrolls folks). Bethesda then completely scrapped Van Buren. They developed (and consequently released) Fallout 3 in 2009, and we all played and loved (hated) it.
The Rights for the Fallout MMO
Backtrack. In 2006, Interplay filed form 8-K with the SEC seeking to start development of a Fallout MMO. In April 2007, SEC filings show that the IP was transferred from Bethesda to Interplay for the development of the MMO under the following conditions:
- Development must start within two years of the agreement date, April 4, 2007 (production allegedly started with Masthead Studios in April, 2008)
- Interplay must also secure at least $30 million for the development of the project in said two years, or forfeit the license
- The game must be launched within four years of beginning of development (that would sometime in April 2012; however Interplay President Eric Caen has already said it won’t be before late 2012 – uh oh!)
- Once launched, Interplay must pay Bethesda a cool 12% of the sales and subscription fees
The Legal Wars
The lawsuit began in September 2009, with Bethesda suing Interplay over breach of contract, saying the development had not yet started. (As stated above, the agreement required Interplay to start development by April 3, 2009 – two years after the contract was signed. Interplay claimed it was already started in April 2008, a year earlier).
Interplay counter-sued, saying that interrupting is against their original contract (the one where Interplay sold the IP to Bethesda in the first place) and thus, that sale is void.
In December 2009, a U.S. District Judge rules against Bethesda’s injunction, allowing the development for the MMO to continue unabated, and most people breathed a sigh of relief.
In April 2010, Bethesda finally dropped the injunction appeal (demanding the MMO’s production be halted), but continued with the lawsuit. Interplay also remained adamant of its stance that the original sale had been violated.
The Latest Ridiculous Twist
If you have made it this far, you already know the situation is fucked to begin with. But today’s twist really puts the icing on the cake.
Bethesda now claims that the agreement they originally made with Interplay back in 2007 (as detailed above), only allowed interplay to use the word “Fallout”, and nothing else. Nothing else that has been already established in the fallout universe through the various games can be used in the MMO. There is ridiculous. Then there is bullshit. Then about 50 feet of pure crap. Then this latest twist.
That’s like Epic Games selling the Gears of Wars IP and then claiming, “you can use the Gears of War name, but you cannot use any of the characters, settings, story elements, the planet Sera, the Locust, chainsaw bayonets, macho tough guys or testosterone. Thank you, and have a nice day!”