Bethesda settles with Interplay, MMO license is 'null and void'

A settlement has been reached in the case between ZeniMax Media subsidiary Bethesda Softworks and Interplay Entertainment surrounding the fate of an MMO set in the Fallout universe.

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A settlement has been reached in the case between ZeniMax Media subsidiary Bethesda Softworks and Interplay Entertainment surrounding the fate of an MMO set in the Fallout universe.

Interplay had retained the right to make a Fallout MMO when it licensed, then later sold, the Fallout IP to Bethesda in 2007. The original agreement stipulated that Interplay must enter "full-scale" development with a minimum of $30 million in funding by April 4, 2009, in order to retain rights to the title. Bethesda had claimed that the conditions were not met and so Interplay's license was automatically cancelled, which Interplay naturally contested.

Under the terms of the settlement, all rights granted to Interplay in order to develop a Fallout MMO have reverted back to Bethesda, effective immediately.

"Interplay has no ongoing right to use the Fallout brand or any Fallout intellectual property for any game development," a ZeniMax press release stated. "ZeniMax will pay Interplay $2 million as consideration in the settlement, each party will bear its own costs of the litigation, and Bethesda will continue to own all Fallout intellectual property rights."

The agreement does give Interplay the right to continue the sale of original Fallout titles, including Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics through December 2013, after which time those titles and other merchandising rights become the property of Bethesda. Late last year, the dispute between both companies became strange when Bethesda claimed Interplay had no right to use any of Fallout's setting, characters, or story in Fallout Online. Interplay said that, clearly, a Fallout MMO would utilize the franchise's setting and story.

That isn't the only recent legal drama surrounding Bethesda and Fallout, as detailed by the ZeniMax press release:

In a separate but related matter, Bethesda commenced a second action against a purported developer of the Fallout MMO, Masthead Studios, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Masthead Studios Ltd. In the course of the original lawsuit against Interplay, Interplay had claimed that it had engaged Masthead Studios to develop the Fallout MMO under its license, and contended that Masthead was engaged in full scale development of that game. Bethesda filed its separate lawsuit against Masthead to assert copyright infringement and other violations of Bethesda's intellectual property rights. Under the MMO license granted to Interplay, Interplay was not permitted to sublicense any rights granted without the prior approval of Bethesda, approval which had never been requested or granted.

According to the release, Masthead has denied it has been using "any of Bethesda's intellectual property in developing an MMO." Masthead and Bethesda settled the claim on December 29, 2011.

With a win under their belt, our assumption is that Bethesda's lawyers will focus on its other legal tussle: the company's claim against Minecraft developer Mojang Specifications surrounding the indie dev's use of the word "Scrolls" as the title for its next major release.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 9, 2012 2:30 PM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, Bethesda settles with Interplay, MMO license is 'null and void'.

    A settlement has been reached in the case between ZeniMax Media subsidiary Bethesda Softworks and Interplay Entertainment surrounding the fate of an MMO set in the Fallout universe.

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      January 9, 2012 2:43 PM

      So WTF Interplay? Not only did they fail to meet the conditions of the license but they also sublicensed development without permission? Did they just plan to get out of these conditions through legal avenues?

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        January 9, 2012 7:29 PM

        The whole thing was basically a desperate Hail Mary on Interplay's part. That's how Bethesda ended up with the IP in the first place: Interplay desperately needed the money, so they sold Bethesda the IP for something like $5 million.

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      January 9, 2012 2:45 PM

      Well that sucks but I guess they just didn't get rolling in time.

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      January 9, 2012 3:27 PM

      Who wants a fucking fallout mmo anyway. Fallout and Elder Scrolls are the last good single player RPGS.

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        January 9, 2012 4:07 PM

        Also, what developer and/or publisher wants to run an MMO these days? Making an MMO is not the "guaranteed success" that it seemed to be eight years ago.

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          January 9, 2012 4:31 PM

          I don't think it ever was guaranteed, people just looked at the WoW numbers and thought they could easily replicate it or grab a part of that market, assuming players would jump ship as they did with normal titles.

          They do know better these days.

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        January 9, 2012 7:29 PM

        Fallout doesn't even make sense as a MMO. The world is supposed to be mostly empty. That doesn't work when you have tons of people sitting around towns looking for raid groups.

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          January 9, 2012 7:46 PM

          It's sad to me that what you described is what "MMO" has come to mean. What a waste of a genre.

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          January 9, 2012 8:13 PM

          What to you want to bet that the Elder Scrolls Universe becomes an MMO before Fallout?

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            January 9, 2012 8:55 PM

            I hope none of y'all wanted any Alchemy reagents, cause I would gather like it was my CLASS, much less my Profession.

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            January 10, 2012 1:46 PM

            It'd just be such a mammoth undertaking. I doubt we'd see it anytime soon. I mean, they'd have to staff voice actors, and staff quite a few if they wished to keep increasing the bar for dialogue. As someone else mentioned though TES is basically the last single player rpg that's actually awesome.

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      January 9, 2012 6:45 PM

      So every FO game from now on is going to be a buggy piece of crap.

      Awesome.

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        January 9, 2012 6:50 PM

        Hahaha. Because Interplay, who couldn't scrape up any money, would build a really stable bug free MMO.

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        January 9, 2012 7:13 PM

        Fallout3 at release was WAY less problematic than Fallout2 at release

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      January 9, 2012 7:32 PM

      I hope Bethesda won't pull the games from GOG after 2013.

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        January 9, 2012 8:12 PM

        Why? because you were going to buy them in January of 2014?

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        January 9, 2012 8:36 PM

        I doubt there's any reason to - they own the rights, might as well let the occasional sale trickle your way. Sure, they might make more money putting them on CD-ROM or some shit but might as well do both like Interplay does.

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          January 9, 2012 9:24 PM

          I seriously doubt they'd make more money selling physical copies of decade-old games than they do through something like GOG.

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            January 10, 2012 5:13 AM

            Well there's got to be some reason that Interplay has bothered to repackage and resell these games retail all these years. I'm saying there might be just enough people who buy it and don't know/don't care/couldn't figure out GOG to make it worth their while.

            I could also see them maybe giving the games away - they do give away TES1 and TES2 these days.

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      January 9, 2012 9:07 PM

      haha what a joke. Nice one interplay..hows a company that was bankrupt before going to make a Fallout MMO? impossible.. I think its unfortunate for both sides...interplay is done and bethesda pumps out crappy buggy games... its sad for the Fallout universe. They should sell it to Visceral who would do a damn better job in my opinion.

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        January 9, 2012 9:12 PM

        They should sell it to Visceral who would do a damn better job in my opinion.

        Front pagers are some goofy, bizarre Twilight Zone motherfuckers for real.

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