According to a report in the UK Times newspaper, Roller Coaster Tycoon creator and developer Chris Sawyer is in the processing of pursuing litigation against U.S. publisher Atari for around $4.8 million in royalties which Sawyer, designer of the multi-million selling franchise, says is still due to him.
Revenue from Sawyer’s games, mainly including iterations of the Roller Coaster Tycoon franchise for PC, is estimated to be about $180 million, and Sawyer has already received about $30 million in royalties, but still lists multiple examples of what he suggests are incorrect deductions from his royalty total. The grounds for the suit were set up in 2003 when Sawyer brought in forensic accountants to audit royalties due to him from Atari/Infogrames, a process strongly recommended by game lawyer Tom Buscaglia in a recent Gamasutra column.
Since then, Atari has also published the Frontier co-developed Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 for PC, continuing the popularity of the franchise, but the issues over royalty accounting have not been resolved, and a court case is now due to start in London in the near future. This follows a failed attempt by Atari to relocate the trial to New York, where it claimed many of its witnesses and much of the relevant information were located.
Neither parties have yet released public statements about the case, and it's unclear whether the future of the Roller Coaster Tycoon series will be affected by this court case. According to earlier comments by Sawyer, the franchise had nearly nine million units sold life-to-date worldwide in early 2005, and it's believed that Sawyer still owns the original IP to the game series.