Interplay: Bethesda knew Fallout Online was set in Fallout universe

As Interplay continues to battle Bethesda to make a Fallout MMO, a new filing from the faltering publisher dismisses Bethesda's claims that it only ever licensed the name "Fallout" itself, not its post-apocalyptic world.

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The legal battle between former Fallout property owner Interplay and current caretaker Bethesda is continuing its descent into arguing silly points. The latest development revolves around Bethesda's claim that it only licensed the "Fallout" name itself to Interplay for its Fallout MMO.

Bethesda made this unusual claim in December 2010, saying Interplay had no right to use any of Fallout's setting, characters, or story in Fallout Online, only the name. In a new filing this month, dug up by Gamasutra, Interplay insists Bethesda well aware that Fallout Online was based upon the post-apocalyptic RPG and never objected before.

"For at least four years, Bethesda has known that Interplay interpreted its right to create the Fallout-branded MMOG to include copyrighted content from the Fallout universe in order to make the MMOG a recognizable Fallout game," says the June 23 court filing. "Bethesda never objected and did not seek an injunction because it knew Interplay was doing exactly what the parties intended under their agreements."

Bethesda's claim that Fallout Online would "confuse and confound" players of Fallout 3 due to plot conflicts is turned back around on Bethesda. "This is ironic because Bethesda contends Interplay should have created an entire game of incompatible story, characters, and art and labeled it Fallout only in name," Interplay says.

It certainly is difficult to believe that Bethesda thought the Fallout MMO would be Fallout in name alone. However, ultimately it'll come down to the exact wording of the contracts, which both parties doubtless interpret differently.

Interplay had retained the right to make a Fallout MMO when it licensed, then later sold, the Fallout IP to Bethesda. The MMO agreement required Interplay to enter "full-scale" development with a minimum of $30 million in funding by April 4, 2009. There were also a number of clauses that'd allow Bethesda to vet the game's quality. Bethesda claims that the conditions were not met and so Interplay's license was automatically cancelled, which Interplay naturally contests.

Fallout Online is being developed internally at Interplay in conjunction with Earthrise dev Masthead Studios. Interplay has said that it'll enter public beta testing in 2012, then launch in the second half of 2012. Assuming it survives this legal battle, of course.

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 29, 2011 6:00 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Interplay: Bethesda knew Fallout Online was set in Fallout universe.

    As Interplay continues to battle Bethesda to make a Fallout MMO, a new filing from the faltering publisher dismisses Bethesda's claims that it only ever licensed the name "Fallout" itself, not its post-apocalyptic world.

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      June 29, 2011 6:09 AM

      How would it be preferable to Bethesda that Interplay made an unrelated MMO and put the fallout name on it?

      "Sure 3rd party development team, you can make a Super Mario Game, just so long as it doesn't feature Mario, and is an action RPG set in ancient viking mythology; you can put Mario on the box though"

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        June 29, 2011 6:11 AM

        I think they're just trying to get a settlement so they can start development on the 'post-apocalyptic' world. Then once they defeat Interplay in court to get the Fallout MMO rights back, they would rename that in-development game to 'Fallout MMO' and continue work.

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      June 29, 2011 6:11 AM

      Please don't fuck up a Fallout MMO...Please don't fuck up a Fallout MMO...Please don't fuck up a Fallout MMO...

    • reply
      June 29, 2011 6:28 AM

      I'd think whether or not Interplay had the rights to use the Fallout universe would be really obvious based on the contract. If it's not, Interplay's lawyers fucked up.

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      June 29, 2011 6:40 AM

      bethesda finally made a good game. by stealing someone else's game.

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        June 29, 2011 7:04 AM

        Interplay was the one selling it and couldn't do anything with it after they abused the original devs. Who's fault is that?

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        June 29, 2011 7:07 AM

        They didn't steal it. Interplay sold the franchise after fucking it up and basically killing it. Bethesda is the only reason the Fallout franchise is alive right now.

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        June 29, 2011 7:24 AM

        obvious troll is obvious

        if you mean this post seriously, delete your shack account. pretty sure nobody wants you.

      • reply
        June 29, 2011 10:39 AM

        Stealing? Hahaha...

      • reply
        June 29, 2011 4:57 PM

        Bethesda was making good games while you were still a suckling.

      • reply
        June 29, 2011 6:38 PM

        I love it when front page posters get thrust into the rest of chatty like this.

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      June 29, 2011 6:41 AM

      Come on Bethesda! Interplay created these wonderful post-apoc games! You made a deal with them and put your loving stamp on them and created great successors to the setting in exchange for letting the original developers and creators to move the game into an online MMO, and now you try and cockblock them? For Shame!

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        June 29, 2011 6:44 AM

        They're not 'cock-blocking' Interplay. They're suing them for not living up to their portion of the contract, which required them to start work (and meet progress targets). None of which Interplay has done.

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          June 29, 2011 6:58 AM

          IMHO, it's one thing to set and meet progress targets in a thriving and stable economy, and another thing entirely to sue someone for not doing such in a recession and economic crisis. Yes, they are working at it, and yes, its slow going.

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            June 29, 2011 7:06 AM

            The contention from the filing is that Interplay was not working on the Fallout MMO. They had targets to meet. Here they are:

            Specific requirements were stated in the agreement that if not met, Interplay would immediately lose and forfeit its license rights for Fallout. Development must have begun within 24 months of the date of the agreement (April 4, 2007), and Interplay must have secured $30 million within that time frame or forfeit its rights to license. Interplay would furthermore need to launch the MMOG within 4 years of the beginning of development, and pay Bethesda 12 percent of sales and subscription fees for the use of the IP.

            The problem comes with not only did they not actually start development (they signed a deal to have Masthead develop the game on April 2, 2009, 2 days before the contract term expired), in their later financial filings they admitted that they did not have enough money to fund development, and worse, only had a team of 12 part-time workers on the MMO.

            So that's why they're rightfully being sued.

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              June 29, 2011 7:15 AM

              Here's some more backstory: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/110516-Fallout-Online-Threatened-By-Interplay-Financial-Woes

              All of which is unfortunate for the once-mighty Interplay but not necessarily of any great interest to gamers. What is of interest, however, is summed up in one short, succinct sentence near the top of page 5. "We may not be able to successfully develop a Fallout MMOG," it says.

              The company has no credit agreement or credit facility and admits that it will probably take a beating on any new deal it does manage to put together; it may be forced to raise money through equity offerings or debt financing, which will probably result in a "substantial dilution" of value for current shareholders; it may be forced to seek bankruptcy protection. The list goes on.

              • reply
                June 29, 2011 7:37 AM

                Ahh, more light illuminates my shadowed mind. I retract my former statements. ASSumptions are a fickle thing, and I was... wrong. (ouch, that hurt)

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        June 29, 2011 7:02 AM

        No developers survived the collapse of Interplay. Pretty much all of the big name original developers of Fallout are at Obsidian now and worked on Fallout: New Vegas.

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        June 29, 2011 11:19 AM

        Look buddy, Interplay is never going to get that shitbird off the ground. Bethesda needs to save the property from those jackfucks.

    • reply
      June 29, 2011 7:31 AM

      Interplay is out of their minds.

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      June 29, 2011 7:36 AM

      Bethesda should just buy Interplay and get it over with. Bonus Descent and MDK sequels...

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        June 29, 2011 10:58 AM

        The IP probably isn't worth the debt that Interplay would come with.

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          June 29, 2011 11:23 AM

          Honestly, I hope Interplay is forced to sell off all their IPs. Get it out of their shitty hands.

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          June 29, 2011 11:33 AM

          I thought they went through bankruptcy and were pretty much debt free after selling Fallout to Bethesda? Well, whatever. Interplay needs to give it up. They don't have the muscle to do an MMO. It's a pipe dream IMO.

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            June 29, 2011 11:36 AM

            Their latest balance sheets indicated they are FLAT-OUT FUCKING BROKE.

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          June 29, 2011 8:24 PM

          They can just buy only the assets and leave the liabilities to fend for itself.

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      June 29, 2011 12:33 PM

      It's not like Interplay has had a problem in the past randomly changing the name of things for Fallout.

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      June 29, 2011 7:49 PM

      I used to have some respect for Bethesda. Now with this, not so much. I mean a five year old could have come up with something better than "Oh, all along we just meant you could use the name, and nothing else!"