NCsoft trying to block Tera launch, alleging theft of trade secrets

NCsoft is taking Tera developer Bluehole Studio to court to try and block the MMORPG's release in North America, claiming it's built upon ideas "looted" from NCsoft when Bluehole's founders worked there on Lineage 3.

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A May launch was announced for MMORPG Tera earlier this month, but NCsoft is hoping to stop that outright. The publisher alleges that NCsoft employees who went on to found developer Bluehole Studio built the game upon "looted" ideas, and, having fought a similar battle in South Korea, wants to block its release in North America. Bluehole's founders had been working on a third entry in NCsoft's grindathon MMO series Lineage. The publisher alleges in the lawsuit (via Rock, Paper, Shotgun) that, when they left, they made off with "copious amounts of proprietary NCsoft information, computer software, hardware and artwork related to Lineage 3." Ideas NCsoft claims Tera lifts from Lineage 3 including the world layout ("four continents surrounding a central island"), similar designs for the player races (especially its raccoon men), an "action combat" system (both the name and ideas), the politics system, and "propietary" Unreal Engine 3 customisations "which NCsoft invested substantial resources to develop." This isn't the first time NCsoft has accused Bluehole of ripping off Lineage 3. The publisher prosecuted its former employees in South Korea, and in 2009 they were convicted for stealing trade secrets, NCsoft says. While its claims for damages were reversed (which NCsoft is still protesting in court), an injunction forbidding Bluehole from using the ideas in future held.

An item of NCsoft's evidence, comparing L3 and Tera's races

Back to the present, NCsoft says, "Bluehole, continuing its competitive war against its rival, has now threatened to open a new and potentially enormous front, namely, the United States." Having scrutinized Tera's Korean version and had a good gander at the US edition, NCsoft says it's "evident" that the stolen ideas are still being used. NCsoft would suffer "immediate and irreparable harm" were Tera to launch in North America, the publisher insists. "The marketing materials already released by the Defendants for the US market reveal that they are aiming directly at NCsoft customer base - and are doing so by emphasizing the very game features they stole from NCsoft. Once lost, that customer base would be extraordinarily difficult to replace." As well as blocking the North American launch, Tera wants damages and legal fees in cash money from Bluehole and its self-publishing arm En Masse Entertainment. The response from En Masse senior community manager Evan Berman is simple: "It's our policy not to comment on legal matters." To court we go!

From The Chatty

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    January 26, 2012 12:30 PM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, NCsoft trying to block Tera launch, alleging theft of trade secrets.

    NCsoft is taking Tera developer Bluehole Studio to court to try and block the MMORPG's release in North America, claiming it's built upon ideas "looted" from NCsoft when Bluehole's founders worked there on Lineage 3.

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      January 26, 2012 12:32 PM

      why even bother? tera is a dud. it will fail immediately in north america without ncsoft's help

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        January 26, 2012 12:33 PM

        Why is it a dud? All I know is that its a) Korean and b) Action combat with dodges and stuff

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          January 26, 2012 12:36 PM

          grindgrindgrindgrindgrindgrindgrind. it has already bombed in korea where they love that kind of thing. i mean i'll play it because it's a korean mmo with pretty graphics but it's going to flop instantly in north america

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            January 26, 2012 12:42 PM

            To be fair, it bombed in Korea largely because of a lack of content. It was just as bad as FFXIV in that regard. The US devs waited a long time, too long IMHO, to allow for that content to be in place for the US release. They've also stated they absolutely plan to drop the grind portion. I too don't think it'll be SWTOR easy, but probably better than the default Korean grind.

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              January 26, 2012 12:50 PM

              i guess time will tell but i'll be surprised if it finds an audience here. Aion had a much better chance of success here based on its explosive and immediate success in Korea and the year of content they had under their belts before releasing in North America, and it was a flop here. i don't see how Tera will be able to do any better. as long as NCsoft keeps cashing those K-Aion checks and the kickbacks from ArenaNet on GW2 (which i think will do very well here), they don't have anything to worry about.

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                January 26, 2012 12:56 PM

                Oh, I think it's dead the second GW2 comes out. It may do OK until then though.

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                January 26, 2012 5:03 PM

                How's you Aion char doing?

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                  January 26, 2012 5:06 PM

                  She's good! Quinn is eagerly awaiting the 3.0 patch, which will bring mounts and player housing and another 5 levels of content. It's been out in Korea for a few months so hopefully it'll come out soon.

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              January 26, 2012 5:44 PM

              How much content do you think Korean devs have added to the game in 1 year? Obviously it will be better at-launch than its Korean counterpart, but what about future updates? Hearing that the game went its first 3 months with no patches hardly instills me with confidence.

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                January 26, 2012 5:48 PM

                It's a pretty good amount of content I believe. The endgame basically didn't exist for the Korean release, nor did a lot of expected functionality. The US release basically contains what we'd think of a full expansion worth of content. Think FFXI Japanese release vs. US release for a good idea comparison.

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            January 26, 2012 12:54 PM

            Yeah I did hear it was grindy.

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          January 30, 2012 12:29 PM

          The fact that its a Korean style MMO pretty much ensures that it will fail. Heck, being an MMO pretty much ensures it will fail

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      January 26, 2012 12:44 PM

      bluehole? bwhahahaha

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      January 26, 2012 1:17 PM

      From what I've read it was a total flop and failure overseas anyway. You'd be silly to buy it.

      i will not buy this i will not buy this i will not buy this

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        January 26, 2012 1:36 PM

        It was only a flop in korea because it had little content and less grinding, and koreans LOVE to GRIND.

        I hope the case is dropped. I think this is the only MMO that will revolutionize combat in its genre. If this game is not a success, It means people still want boring WOW combat.

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          January 26, 2012 5:41 PM

          There are already other action MMOs out.

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            January 26, 2012 9:46 PM

            The only comparable ones are vindictus and DCUO, and they stale in compaison

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              January 27, 2012 12:21 AM

              Age of Conan, better in all regards except graphics. Sadly, very low population now :/

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                January 30, 2012 12:30 PM

                AoC was one of those MMOs that really could've worked and been somewhat different but they just could never bring all the pieces together.

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      January 26, 2012 2:25 PM

      meh, I can see why they'd be pissed, but I would think this would be the time to really work on making Lineage 3 a superior game.

      Heck if 'Tera' is as much of a rip of as they say, they could use public feedback on Tera to better develop Lineage 3 :P

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      January 26, 2012 9:52 PM

      Man, I remember my cousin being so hyped for this game. What happened...

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      January 27, 2012 12:03 AM

      this just blew my mind.. mainly because having been a big fan of L2 since beta and reading up on L3 for years until everything was stolen and all news and progress stopped. this is the first real l3 news in years.. and guess what? What everyone was saying is apparently true. They stole L3 and made Tera lol

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      January 29, 2012 9:23 PM

      Races look different enough to me. I mean were they expecting an MMO to NOT have elves and humans in it?