The Lawsuit Thickens...

By Chris Remo, Aug 31, 2005 10:01am PDT Last week it was reported that Call of Duty: Finest Hour (PS2, Xbox, GCN) developer Spark Unlimited has filed suit against publisher Activision for breach of contract and failure to pay royalties. Now, however, it seems that the situation goes even farther. The full trio of charges laid against Activision comprises breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation, and breach of an implied contract. Spark claims that it was entitled to develop two more Finest Hour-based games, whereas Activision claims that was never the case. Spark goes on to claim that Activision neglected to supply the developer appropriate funding, while charging the developer millions for the last-minute development of the game's multiplayer mode, which was allegedly never in the game's original specification.
Overall, Spark's complaint contends that "Activision then breached the development agreement by failing to negotiate in good faith over a second and third product, and refused to provide any meaningful bridge funding." "Indeed, Activision simply waited until Call of Duty: Finest Hour was virtually complete and then abandoned its relationship with Spark," reads the complaint.

Strikingly, the complaint also reads, "Activision repaid Spark by usurping Spark's rights and taking for itself only all benefits of the contract...then followed up this usurpation by seeking to kill off Spark altogether." It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. As most are probably aware, developer vs. publisher conflicts are not new, with such high profile cases as Valve vs. Vivendi in recent years.

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  • Not that I'm taking anyone's side about things, but I do wish more developers as well as individuals and groups of employees would stand up and take control of these types of situations. When you're owed royalties, no matter what, those royalties should be paid. Though a piece of paper will usually be waved in your face for those who owe to get out of paying what they do owe. I've been burned by this before as well, and never received a dime. It's a sad case that through seeing these things happen, and through personal experiences, that I'm left with a thought that someone somewhere involved with game development always gets screwed and has to bite it.