Llamasoft founder Jeff Minter has publicly accused Atari of acting as a "copyright troll" and threatening him with legal action in an effort to stop him from selling his Tempest-esque PlayStation Vita game TxK, porting it to new platforms or ever making another Tempest-esque game again.
This is notable because Minter is himself a former Atari employee with a history of making Tempest-esque games that stretches back to his work programming Tempest 2000 for Atari's Jaguar console in 1994.
In a public blog post, a copy of which was published to Pastebin after his website went offline due to heavy traffic, Minter claims Atari later intentionally modified a ported version of Tempest 2000 just enough to ensure he wouldn't receive royalties.
Now, years later, he claims the company is threatening him with legal action over perceived similarities between his work and Tempest 2000.
"They are still trying to insist that I remove from sale Vita TxK (even though it's plainly at the end of its run now and only brings in a trickle these days) and sign papers basically saying I can never make a Tempest style game ever again," wrote Minter. "So no chance of releasing the ports."
He offers further details on some of the alleged legal threats Atari has made against him and Llamasoft in the blog post, which was published after Minter took to Twitter to accuse Atari of acting like a copyright troll and demanding that (among other things) he turn over his source code.
Update: Atari representatives responded to Gamasutra's request for comment with the following statement:
Atari values and protects its intellectual property and expects others to respect its copyrights and trademarks. When Llamasoft launched TxK in early 2014, Atari was surprised and dismayed by the very close similarities between TxK and the Tempest franchise. Atari was not alone in noticing the incredible likeness between the titles. Several major gaming outlets also remarked at the similarity of features and overall appearance of TxK to Tempest; one stated of TxK, “This is essentially Tempest.” There is no lawsuit. Atari has been in continuous contact with the developer since the game launched in hopes that the matter would be resolved.
As evidence, Atari specifically pointed to reviews of TxK published on IGN and Gamespot last year which refer to it as Minter's "spirtual successor" to Tempest 2000 and "Tempest in spirit."