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Epic prevails in suit against Silicon Knights, receives $4.45M in damages
Epic prevails in suit against Silicon Knights, receives $4.45M in damages
May 30, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Epic Games VP Mark Rein says his company won its court case against Silicon Knights, which accused Epic of failing to provide a functional version of Unreal Engine 3 for development of the 2008 Xbox 360 game Too Human.

"Case over. Jury finds for Epic on all counts," said the Epic executive in a Tweet. The case had been a cloud over the two companies for the past five years. Gamasutra has reached out to Silicon Knights and Epic Games for confirmation.

This legal dispute began in 2007 when the Canadian studio accused North Carolina-based Epic Games (Gear of War series) of "sabotaging efforts by Silicon Knights and others to develop their own video games" with the company's Unreal Engine 3.

Silicon Knights, which licensed Unreal Engine 3, alleged that issues with the engine resulted in Too Human's two-year delay and low sales. An analyst brought in by the studio for the lawsuit estimated that Silicon Knights suffered over $58 million in damages from lost royalties, publisher bonuses, and profits from future projects.

North Carolina chief district judge James Dever III, however, took issue with the analyst's calculations and excluded his testimony and reports. The judge eventually decided that Silicon Knights would only be able to sue for $1 in damages, after the developer failed to provide a detailed breakdown of damages.

Silicon Knights' charges against Epic Games included fraud, negligent misrepresentation, intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, breach of warranty, unfair and deceptive trade practices, common law unfair competition, unjust enrichment, contract rescission or reformation, common law breach of contract, and breach of contract under the North Carolina Uniform Commercial Code.

[Update: Gamasutra has received conformation that Epic Games has won the case against Silicon Knights. In addition, the jury has ruled in favor of all of Epic's counterclaims, which state that Silicon Knights breached the Unreal Engine license agreement, misappropriated Epic's trade secrets, and infringed Epic's copyrights in the Unreal Engine 3 code.

As a result, Epic has been awarded damages totaling $4.45 million. The company also has the option to submit a request to the court for a full reimbursement of its legal fees. "We are delighted with the jury's verdict and all of the hard work done by the Hunton & Williams legal team," said Epic's general council, Jay Andrews.]

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David Pittman
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A great reason to not get into a contract with Epic Games. Make your own engine.

Josh Rough
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Is anybody surprised that Mark wasted no time tweeting this? :-P

Michiel Hendriks
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"Is anybody surprised that wasted no time tweeting this? :-P "
Fixed it for you.

I think it was a stretch to start with that a game which was more or less in development for 10 years failed because of the engine they started using 3 years before release.
You don't hear 3DRealms claiming DNF failed commercially due to the engine.

Evan Combs
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"more or less in development for 10 years failed"


Robert Baxter
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Would you?

William Johnson
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Silicon Knights should have just cut their losses when they had the chance. I'm going to refrain from kicking a guy while he's down, but I hope SK can recover from this. They can at least come up with interesting ideas for games.

Michael Rooney
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I was coming in here to say pretty much this, but you appear to have handled it nicely.

Contrary to a lot of people's opinions I really enjoyed the gameplay in Too Human. It wasn't perfect and definitely different, but I think once you adapted to it it was a lot more extendable and natural than games that stress the face buttons. I really hope they reuse the system for something; with a little polish it could have big payoffs.

Kevin Patterson
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Suing Epic was just a bad idea, I wish it would have been dropped.

I wanted Too Human to be awesome, and I looked forward to playing it but then I saw the reviews.
I rented instead of buying and the game was a major disappointment, I wanted to love the game......
It had such a great backstory and setting and somehow the gameplay just didn't come together.

I hate that they won't revisit the franchise, I would love to see them try it again and get it right the next time.

I hope SK can recover and make something awesome again.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Benjamin Quintero
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This will probably sink SK... I never liked Too Human but sad to see any developer shut down...

Ken Nakai
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Welcome to the trials and tribulations of licensing someone else's game they use in their own games. Sounds like, from the original argument, that SK expected Epic to bend over backwards to shoehorn their engine into SK's game (rather than just make sure the released engine works to spec). Always a shame when a relationship ends up in court, though. You can't fix a game by suing to get money you might not have gotten in the first place due to bad game design...

Lee Thompson
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That seems to have backfired for SK.

I too wanted to like Too Human but the execution just wasn't that good. (And dying over and over again and having to watch the death cutscene over and over again didn't help.)

David Navarro
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"That seems to have backfired for SK."

You could say that.

Ian Uniacke
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Can't this still go to the high court? Some of the decisions, such as reducing the original claim to 1 dollar, seems like the kind of thing you would do as a judge who feels the case is way outside of his understanding. I expect this isn't in fact over yet.

Michael Rooney
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He reduced it to $1 because SK didn't submit an itemized breakdown of their damages after the previous estimate was thrown out. It wasn't because he didn't understand the case, it was because SK failed to deliver any meaningful evidence for the sum of their damages claimed in the time given by the Judge.

Ben Lippincott
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I really don't know why SK thought this would work. Too Human was marred by far more than poor use of an engine. Overall, the gameplay itself wasn't inherently bad, just unremarkable in the way it was implemented, the bigger issues were in level design, pacing, and focus. Silicon Knights would've been best served by simply burying the IP and moving on to new projects.

Hell, these guys could even attempt to bring back the Legacy of Kain series or the ____ Empire series to line their pockets for new ventures. Hopefully, these guys can come back from this. I'd hate to see another closing.