Silicon Knights vs. Epic Games goes to federal jury

By Steve Watts, Mar 31, 2011 4:15pm PDT

The legal dispute between Silicon Knights and Epic Games has been fairly quiet since subpoenas were issued in 2008. Now things have started rumbling again, thanks to recent court action that allows the Too Human developer to present its case before a federal jury.

Kotaku reports that a federal court has granted Silicon Knights the ability to present many of its allegations against Epic Games to a federal jury. Those include fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unfair competition, breach of contract, and breach of warranty. The court did dismiss some claims, including intentional interference and unjust enrichment.

Essentially, Silicon Knights claims that Epic failed to support the Unreal Engine during development of Too Human, causing "considerable losses." The suit claims that Epic withheld a better version of the engine, and used licensing fees to fund the development of Gears of War, rather than improve the Unreal Engine.

On top of that, the court found a "possible motive" for Epic to have deceived Silicon Knights to cover its own game development costs, and points out that Epic's own counter-claim admits that it developed Unreal Engine 3 alongside Gears of War, rather than separately as Silicon Knights had been led to believe.

Epic also allegedly promised a dedicated support staff for the Unreal engine. Silicon Knights claims that Epic promised they would split the teams into two groups: developers of Epic's own games, and an Unreal support staff. Instead, various internal e-mails from Epic seem to imply that the development staff pulled double-duty as licensee support staff.

Silicon Knights also cited a letter from Buena Vista Games, expressing similar concerns in 2006.

"Silicon Knights has always wanted to have our focus be on making great games, not litigation," said president Denis Dyack, in a statement. "This ruling will allow us to have our day in court, before a jury, and to shine the light publicly on Epic's conduct. We are very confident the jury will see the truth behind Epic's actions."

Click here to comment...