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Bethesda: 'Interplay Is Wrong'
Bethesda: 'Interplay Is Wrong'
January 12, 2011 | By Kris Graft

January 12, 2011 | By Kris Graft
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    64 comments
More: Console/PC



Fallout owner Bethesda Softworks argued in a Tuesday court filing that terms of a Fallout MMO licensing agreement with Interplay are clear-cut, and reaffirmed that Interplay cannot use any assets related to the Fallout universe, outside of the name "Fallout."

Bethesda's filing -- obtained by Gamasutra -- is the latest development in a bitter legal battle between the two companies, which are fighting over licensing and purchase terms that were part of Bethesda's $5.75 million acquisition of the Fallout franchise from Interplay in 2007.

As part of the Fallout licensing and purchase agreements, Bethesda bought the Fallout franchise and licensed the rights to a "Fallout-branded MMOG" back to Interplay, under certain conditions.

Interplay is currently at work on an MMO based in the fictional Fallout universe. But in December, Bethesda claimed it licensed "one single asset" [emphasis Bethesda's] to Interplay, which was the "Fallout" trademark in connection with an MMO.

Bethesda, developer of Fallout 3, contended that there is "no other license" included in the deal, and that any Fallout-branded MMO made by Interplay cannot feature any assets from the established Fallout universe, such as characters, settings or storylines. Interplay later called Bethesda's interpretation of the agreement "absurd."

Interplay also asked the court for the opportunity to "present evidence to show the parties' intent with regard to the meaning of the term 'Fallout-branded MMOG,'" a term not clearly defined in the licensing agreement, Interplay alleged.

But in the filing yesterday, Bethesda argued that the agreements are "clear and unambiguous," and that the company has "no contractual or other duty" to allow Interplay to use any Fallout assets outside of the name "Fallout."

"The term 'Fallout-branded MMOG' is plain and clear on its face -- it means an MMOG named 'Fallout,'" read Bethesda's latest response to Interplay. "Bethesda gave Interplay a license to call its MMOG 'Fallout' if it met the conditions of the [trademark licensing agreement]. Nothing else was licensed to Interplay."

Interplay had also previously argued that Bethesda only recently had a problem with the contents and scope of the in-development Fallout MMO. But Bethesda said it didn't argue against Fallout universe-related content in earlier hearings because the company "only recently learned of Interplay’s multiple infringements from Interplay’s public marketing materials."

Bethesda in September 2009 originally sued Interplay for trademark infringement and for breaching the Fallout licensing and purchase agreements.

The licensing agreement in particular required Interplay to have raised $30 million within 24 months of the original signing to fund development of the Fallout MMO and begin full-scale development of the game by April 2009, or else the license would be terminated. The agreement also required Interplay to launch the game within four years of signing. Bethesda said Interplay failed to meet those requirements; Interplay disagrees.

For now, the legal focus is on the fictional Fallout universe itself. "Interplay offers a variety of meritless arguments to suggest that the plain reading of the [trademark licensing agreement] would render the agreement meaningless," Bethesda's latest filing added. "Interplay is wrong. Its arguments to the contrary should be rejected."


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Comments


Simon Ludgate
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I think Bethesda have launched their campaign to win the asshat of the year award. They've certainly placed themselves on my "do not buy" list. I won't buy games from a company that's going to spend those profits on nasty lawsuits rather than spending that money making good games.

Mike Kasprzak
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So uh, Bethesda "pulled an Edge" -- money to use a name. Very classy. "You bought the box, not what's inside it". *sigh*. Now sure, Bethesda has no obligation to give assets or code over, but the bickering sounds like it's implying that Interplay can call their urban jungle themed MMO "Fallout Something", as opposed to their post apocalyptic MMO.



*sigh*... Why did I even read this? Legal battles are almost always the equivalent of to two kids fighting over a candy bar in a sandbox.

Christopher Braithwaite
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Considering Bethesda's record of releasing two successful Fallout games since the deal to Interplay's none, if anyone should be focused on making good games instead of nasty lawsuits it is Interplay.

Maurício Gomes
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How you make a good game when you just reopened the company and other company keep draining your time with stupid lawsuits?

Christopher Braithwaite
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Try not biting the hand that feeds you for a start. I'd be more sympathetic to Interplay if it didn't have a reputation for underhanded behavior, but that this lawsuit even exists sounds like classic inept Interplay behavior.

Maurício Gomes
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So, guity until proven innocent, is that it?

Simon T
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Biting the hand that feeds you? Where did the Fallout universe originate exactly?



And Bethesda only licensed a single asset - the name? What a crock.



A Fallout *branded* MMO encapsulates the Fallout universe.

Aaron Bossinger
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Actually, Interplay created the original Fallout universe. They sold everything to Bethesda after going bankrupt but still wanted to develop a new Fallout game. So part of the agreement when Fallout was sold to Bethesda was that Bethesda would license them the right to develop a Fallout MMO. Only after reaching the two year mark did Bethesda suddenly say that Interplay should only be allowed to call the game Fallout and not make an actual Fallout game. Bethesda knew all along that they were developing an actual Fallout game.

Maurício Gomes
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"Troféu Joinha" to Bethesda. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_WBDgTyNvPVA/SNh120ln0BI/AAAAAAAACew/0si
N0JsKBPo/s400/trofeu_joinha.jpg





Sorry for using a brazillian meme, but it is perfect to Bethesda.

Brent Orford
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I dunno Simon, from what I read it seems Bethesda is simply protecting its property from being illegally used.



The backstory is that Interplay had 59 million in debt in 2001 and was evicted for non-payment of rent and shut down by the California government in 2004 for no longer being able to pay their employees.



According to Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethesda_Softworks ) Bethesda aquired the Fallout franchise from Interplay in 2004 which is contrary from what this article states but in the right timeframe for when they were being shut down. My guess is the execs knew they had massive debt, looked at their available resources and thought "what can we sell" - and sold the Fallout IP straight up.



Interplay was producing a version of Fallout 3 code-named Van Buren which was PC only and got cancelled in late 2003. Bethesda's release of Fallout 3 was completely unrelated to Van Buren and targeted the Console market (PC/XBox360/PS3.) The shift in product focus and re-design of the franchise for Fallout3 garnered an overall average of 93/100 on metacritic and reinvigorated the franchise.



The way it sounds to me, Betheda owns the Fallout franchise and related IP straight up; brought new life to it by targeting the console market and now Interplay wants to piggyback on the success of a franchise they once owned by targetting the MMO space. Bethesda doesn't want market confusion or ownership confusion and thus did not license any assets/storyline/etc with the MMO license Interplay holds with them - they can simply call it "Fallout: blah blah blah" and use the Fallout logo.



I'm not sure where the confusion is from Interplay's point of view - I agree with the title of this article and Bethesda's stance though. If you sell me your car, you can't keep a key to it and drive it on Tuesday's; likewise if you sell me your video game IP (assets) - you can't keep them in perforce and use those assets in future works.

Maurício Gomes
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But that was the whole point of Interplay deal.



Interplay is not stupid, they knew Fallout was important, and they knew that it was the only thing they could sell, they offered several parties that they would sell the IP and piggyback on the success using a MMO.



Bethesda bought the IP, had their own success, but now is denying Interplay the rest of the contract.

Brent Orford
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No one's saying Interplay is stupid, but they undervalued their franchise and did not adjust to changing market conditions by moving their franchises onto new emerging platforms.



If Interplay felt Fallout was important at the time they wouldn't have canned their internal Fallout3 project which was in production and sold the IP for a mere 5.75 mil. They would have sought out VC capital to finish the game. Bethesda's Fallout 3 moved 4.7mil+ copies (~300mil $) Surely if Interplay felt they had a winner on their hands they could have easily secured the capital to complete their version.



On the PC, WoW had just been released and was taking over the market (MMO and otherwise) during this time. Interplay hadn't planned for console development, and they took what they could get. Contrary to them being 'stupid' as you put it, they did exceedingly well climbing out of the debt they had aquired, part of that was through selling franchises like Fallout.



They saw the revenue WoW was generating and carved out marketing rights to a Fallout MMO for their future through name and branding. Unfortunately for them, they should have hired a lawyer to more clearly define franchise asset and story rights. They didn't from my understanding of what I've read. They sold everything, and that's that.



IMO They should drop the Fallout branding completely, change the names of items and characters, and move on with their MMO.

Maurício Gomes
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And give up on something they agreed?



In my view, if interplay lose this lawsuit, they have all rights to tack the name on a crap game, say it is bethesda fault, Bethesda won't be able to complain, and interplay then will get lots of free sales that they can use on the proper MMO (Wasteland, maybe? Fallout 1 was a Wasteland sequel without Wasteland IP...)

Brent Orford
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Yes, that's exactly the right they do have!



They totally can come out with a crappy MMO and 'possibly' harm the franchise's name and you're right Bethesda wouldn't be able to complain.



It's the same thing Treyarch had going with Infiniti Ward in the COD franchise and we've seen with those two, that even though one company's games are consistantly superior to the other (they use the same engine) they both still make a ton of $ and the franchise doesn't really get harmed in the end anyway.



So change the assets, bring on the MMO, and let Bethesda beg Interplay to incorporate the original assets for rev share later.

John Tessin
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Interplay isn't the first

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titus_Software

Matthew Mouras
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But is the issue that Interplay wants to use assets created by Bethesda, or that Interplay wants to create their own assets for the MMO within the Fallout world? I can understand Bethesda wanting to protect what it has developed Fallout into, but I can also sympathize with Interplay if all Bethesda says they are allowed to do is call their new MMO "Fallout" and have the option of setting it in any universe other than... you know... "Fallout".

Kris Graft
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Bethesda bought _all_ of the rights to Fallout in 2007, and licensed back the rights to develop a "Fallout-branded MMOG" (whatever that means) back to Interplay. _EVERYTHING_ about the Fallout universe -- whether created by Interplay or Bethesda -- now belongs to Bethesda, which can license out aspects of that world.

Ardney Carter
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"licensed back the rights to develop a "Fallout-branded MMOG" (whatever that means) "



Come on man, it's pretty obvious what it was intended to mean. If I'm selling my interest in a brand to you but stipulate that I can license the rights to one game in that brand both parties know BLOODY well what is being exchanged and it ISN'T just a name.



There's no shortage of names for MMOs and a company isn't going to bother licensing just a name for a product if it had no intentions of using any other aspects of the brand BUT the name. There'd be no point.



Regardless of what one thinks about either company, the claims Bethesda has been making regarding the nature of the agreement have been ludicrous from day 1. Whether or not Interplay can deliver a game or what its quality will or won't be is entirely irrelevant. Bethesda bought the Fallout franchise, agreed to let Interplay make 1 Fallout online -game, and now wants to backpeddle.

Kris Graft
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Oh I think most people know what the intention was, I mean "whatever that means [legally]." :)

Ardney Carter
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Lol. Fair enough.

Ian Uniacke
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It sounds to me like Bethesda knew "exactly" what they were giving interplay, but then had a cry when WoW was so successful and now they realise that the MMO could be the real cash cow. Of course it could just flop like lots of other MMO's but I think a Fallout MMO handled properly could be really successful. This whole lawsuit is frivolous because what Bethesda are arguing is that "the law which states that the reasonable interpretation of a contract is its true meaning, well we don't like that law so it doesn't apply". Well bad luck Bethesda you have to follow laws. I think it's fairly likely that Interplay will win this case.

Pawel Dembowski
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Interplay does not use any assets created by Bethesda, only those from the original Fallout games.

John Tessin
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Which apparently they sold to Bethesda.

Christer Kaitila
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Remember: Interplay invented the Fallout universe post-apocalyptic lore, not Bethesda! Interplay invented the concept of the look and feel, the fallout "boy", the s.p.e.c.i.a.l. traits, stimpacks, the pip-boy computer, and more.

Christopher Braithwaite
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Remember: Interplay sold all of that to Bethesda!

Maurício Gomes
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In exchange of using Bethesda success with a MMO, and now Bethesda is retreating with their part of the deal.

Megan Swaine
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Wouldn't it do MORE harm to the brand to slap the name on something that didn't resemble "Fallout" as we know it?

Derek Smart
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I'm not taking sides, but this Bethesda is reaching deep - deep - down into the cookie jar with this one. It is highly unlikely that they will prevail.

Ian Uniacke
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Totally agree.

Douglas Wood
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Hang on, this all really, really depends on the specifics of the lawsuit. It's obvious that they made a clear cut agreement. You can use the IP but not content we created. To me that sounds like they are mostly restricting clearly named and existing things, possibly the Capitol Wasteland and the Mojave Wasteland. Maybe they were referencing characters, we don't know. Perhaps it was something smaller and was referencing lore based items like T51-b power armor. For those of you saying that Interplay invented that stuff, sure you're right they did. But they also sold all the rights thinking that they weren't going to ever use them again. It says here that Bethesda only brought up the lawsuit "because the company 'only recently learned of Interplay’s multiple infringements from Interplay’s public marketing materials.'" To me that sounds like they were using some innocuous stuff and Bethesda didn't really mind because it was essential to the IP at first. Then they kept taking more and more until legal action was the only way to handle it. During the development of New Vegas, Bethesda brought Interplay in to work on the design to make it more "fallout-y." They've obviously engaged these guys, and put quite a bit of trust in what they're doing. However, this is a big step. Interplay is developing the game outside of Bethesda's purview. Meaning Bethesda probably isn't going to see a dime more than royalties for the IP they own, and maybe not even that since the licensing of the IP was part of the purchasing contract for that IP. They have to exhibit tight control, or they risk losing control of what they bought.



To be perfectly honest though, this article tells us next to nothing of the actual details of what is being fought over. We don't know how innocent or serious Interplays boundary hopping is. We don't know if Bethesda's just being an "asshat." Or if Interplay really did overstep their bounds. A legally binding agreement was made, it must be adhered to on both sides.

Nathan Verbois
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Exactly. Any opinions formed at this point are merely conjecture.

Matthew Mouras
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Agreed... though it sounds like these guys need a mediator more than they need a courtroom and a judge.

Douglas Wood
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So, after a little bit of research, it appears that Bethesda has actually given a pretty decent bit of leeway to a really defunct developer. It appears that Interplay has had a ton of lawsuits and fines against them for a whole slew of reasons, and in 2001 was about $60 million in debt. When Bethesda gave the license back to Interplay to make the mmo in 2007, they stipulated that the company had 24 months to raise $30 million to produce the game, or they forfeit the license. They also had until 2011 to produce the game. 24 months later, Bethesda filed suit against Interplay because the company hadn't yet begun production on the game. Interplay pulled a counter suit claiming that Bethesda was interfering with their ability to produce the mmo, and tried to claim breach of contract which would have nullified the original sale. As of April last year, Bethesda dropped their injunction, but both groups are still pursuing lawsuits. Here we are in 2011, there is a stub site linking off of Interplay's site where one can sign up for news on the game and register for beta testing. However, in their in development list, they still only list "Project V13," the codename for the fallout mmo. So technically, it's not even an announced title.



After reading up on Interplays financial... fiasco's, it appears that this kind of financial roller coaster is pretty much their "thing." From what I've gathered, it looks like Bethesda's been pretty lenient, and just getting tired of Interplays antics. There's a lot in there though, can't say I haven't missed anything.

Kevin Patterson
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Is this really a bethesda lawsuit, or is it their parent company Zenimax that is really behind these shenanigans?

I love Bethesda's games, I love Interplay's games, can't they just get along?

I wish Interplay could get back to their RPG making like in their heyday, and a new Descent pretty please.

(Or whoever owns the rights, a new Forsaken, Im dying for that style of game on the current consoles)

Maurício Gomes
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Bethesda and Zenimax are the same you know? The owners at least. (Zenimax owns Bethesda, but Zenimax was founded by the former Bethesda owners anyway... They created Zenimax and sold Bethesda to themselves)

Kevin Patterson
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Thanks Mauricio, i didn't know those details.

Simon Ludgate
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The agreement, as I understood it, was basically Interplay saying "We'll sell you Fallout but you let us make one last Fallout game." To me, that means that the Fallout game would be made with the IP that was in Interplay's possession prior to the contract. Then, Interplay missed a number of financial and production deadlines that were specified in the contract, basically part of the "you have to ACTUALLY make the game or we get the license back" clause. However, it seems that Interplay is actually working on the game and contests whether or not it missed some deadlines. Meanwhile, Bethesda is actively trying to sink Interplay's efforts with as many lawsuits as it can dream up, drifting further and further into the realm of malicious and ridiculous. Bethesda's using underhanded tactics to get a better deal than it originally made.



Legality aside, this is a major PR issue for Bethesda. A lot of fallout fans and gamers want to play the Fallout MMO. Right now, Bethesda is trying to kill the Fallout MMO. In terms of community relations, this is a really bad thing. Moreover, if Bethesda is worried that the game isn't going to be up to par, they could be spending this money and effort helping Interplay to meet these standards rather than trying to shoot them down. Maybe cooperation is just some outdated Canadian ideal. Still, it seems to me that if Bethesda wants to improve its image, the last thing they should be doing is jabbing its fanbase with a "no game for you" shiv.

Christopher Braithwaite
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Do you really think the majority of people who bought Fallout 3 and New Vegas know about this squabble, let alone care? I doubt this will affect Bethesda's image outside of developers and core gamers.

Matthew Mouras
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Exactly... look how badly the very public squabble at Infinity Ward hurt Black Ops. Hurt it to the tune of being one of the biggest selling pieces of entertainment product of all time.

Hayden Dawson
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Perhaps they should approach EA about licensing a 'Wasteland' MMO and then file claim Bethesda 'stole' from that IP with Fallout........

Jason Lee
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Sounds like Interplay has got a classic case of "IP Sellers Remorse".



I would be interested in hearing opinions from X-BlackIsle team members like Chris Avellone and Feargus Urquhurt to get their official take on this whole lawsuit situation. Seeing as how they are both high level execs and/or co-founders over at Obsidian Entertainment, their sentiments concerning this whole legal battle between Bethesda and Interplay would be intriguing to say the least.



Seriously though, can't we all just, get along... :/

Brent Orford
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"Seriously though, can't we all just, get along"



If there were no lawyers, this thing would have been done and settled before lunch. :/



I would love to hear those opinions too, but people who are 'close' to the situation could ultimately get caught up in the legal entanglement via sopena, gag order, sued, or otherwise should they speak their mind. I probably wouldn't offer up an opinion if I were them. Would be cool as all heck to hear it though. And then to see Chris Remo respond with "Whoa!" when they do state their opinion. :)

Pawel Dembowski
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Given that Obsidian is currently working for Bethesda on Fallout: New Vegas DLC, they're not exactly free to voice their opinions on this mater.

Pawel Dembowski
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Bethesda states that they hadn't made the claim about Interplay not having the rights to use any Fallout-related assets aside from the name before now because "Bethesda only recently learned of Interplay’s multiple infringements from Interplay’s public marketing materials". Even though actually the public materials, which were, by the way, first released over 6 months ago, definitely weren't the first use of Fallout assets that Bethesda knew of. The following proof of concept Fallout Online screenshots were admitted as evidence in this very case already in 2009:



http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/File:Project_V13_screenshot1.jpg

http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/File:Project_V13_screenshot2.jpg

http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/File:Project_V13_screenshot3.jpg



And they show super mutants and a Nuka-Cola sign. If these are not Fallout-related assets, what is?

Maurício Gomes
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It is Wasteland assets... :P

R G
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I like how everyone's comments are not fanboy fueled like the previous article about this.



I can see it on both sides in a way, but I have a feeling that Bethesda is going to win this one simply because in order to appeal to the core gamers that are Fallout fans (many starting out on Fallout 3), Interplay is going to want to use some of these icons such as the T51-b armor, super mutants, and (as Pawel Dembowski above mentions) the Nuka-Cola sign.

Pawel Dembowski
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I initially expected Bethesda to easily win this, but Interplay's lawyers strike me as more competent than Bethesda's based on recent developments. So who knows.

R G
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Yeah, they do seem that way. I was looking at it more from the companies' views on how to monetize Fallout.

Mark Venturelli
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Everyone responsible for Fallout is already long gone from Interplay.



I really think Bethesda is wrong on this matter, but I secretly hope Interplay loses. Else, they will make the worst game to ever bear the Fallout name since that PS2 atrocity.



Not that I personally think Bethesda's Fallout games are any good, but I'm not arguing against the overwhelmingly major opinion on the contrary. At least they are not the joke that this MMO might turn to be.

Maurício Gomes
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You are very wrong, two of original creators of Fallout 1 are currently in charge of the MMO, including Chris Taylor (that is like the "father" of the franchise)

Mark Venturelli
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Didn't know Chris was back at Interplay, but the "father" of the franchise is Brian Fargo, who is now at inXile.



Most of the good guys from Fallout are gone to companies like Obsidian, Blizzard and Arenanet...



And quite frankly, if that "Earthrise" is any indication, this Masthead dev is very sub-par. When you combine extremely high expectations with a bad dev, failure is almost certain.

Pawel Dembowski
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Well, while Chris Taylor is one of the original creators and was the lead designer of Fallout 1, I wouldn't call him *the* father of Fallout - this title is more often associated with Tim Cain.

Pawel Dembowski
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Brian Fargo is not the father of the franchise either (he is one of the fathers of Wasteland, which was the predecessor of Fallout, so you could say he is Fallout's grandfather). Tim Cain (currently at Carbine Studios) is the one who actually created the original concept for Fallout 1. Generally, the main creators of Fallout (credited with "original game design) are Tim Cain, Chris Taylor, Leonard Boyarsky, Jason Anderson, Scott Campbell and Jason Taylor.

Mark Venturelli
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Yeah, if not Brian Fargo, Tim Cain. Who was at inXile too.

Pawel Dembowski
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Tim Cain was never at inXile. He left Interplay for Troika and after Troika died, he co-founded Carbine Studios. You must be thinking of Jason Anderson, another original Fallout developer, who did join inXile (after first rejoining Interplay and doing some work on Fallout Online), and recently left for Turtle Rock Studios.

Mark Venturelli
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Yeah, you are right! I got both of them confused. Tim Cain went to do Bloodlines.

Simon T
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So Fallout has three fathers?



No wonder there's so much confusion.

Mark Venturelli
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Most games are done by teams, you know?



Even those when just one guy seems to take design credit.

Maurício Gomes
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The contract does not say that interplay have to actually spend the 30 million of funding on the MMO, I think Interplay should just make a cute hello-kitty style game, place the name "Fallout" on it, make a disclaimer explaining the situation to fans, and make the real MMO with other name.

Drew Cass
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Given the current situation you have to wonder if Bethesda is trying to curb development of Interplays MMOG(Massive Multiplayer Online Game) to preserve the rights for their own potential aspirations of a Fallout MMO in the future.



I agree with some of the earlier comments it mi9ght just be easier for Interplay to modify development change the setting, time, location of the world and either slap the fallout label licensed by Bethesda or better yet call it something else. I'm sure interplay fan boys will flock all the same to a wasteland title developed the original developers of fallout if only in publisher name only these days.



Regardless interplay sold the fallout IP to Bethesda, if they didn't properly secure the rights in the contract Bethesda is within their rights regardless of the sprit to defend their IP.

Ian Uniacke
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That's not correct at all! The spirit of the contract is the heart of contractual law! You can word it in whatever tricksy way you want, if the spirit of the contract was clearly "Interplay gets to make a fallout MMO" than that's what "legally" the contract is considered as. Otherwise we'd all get screwed over constantly by contracts such as "Get a phone for free, 20$ a month plan (clause 59: you must give us your first born baby)". Contractual law MUST work this way (as being the spirit of the contract) or else it's completely useless and no one would ever sign any contract.

Drew Cass
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When dealing with IP licensing, sale and transfer you owe it to your self to define terms, hire a decent contract lawyer and insure that you stipulate what rights you own, what rights you want to ensure access too and what is being sold.



We are not talking a car deal between two people. IP's are complex entities, who's rights can be broken up and sold, licensed, and leased. Just because you reserve the right to develop a fallout-branded MMOG unless you define what you have a right to use within the IP (I.E. Story rights, ect...) later on down the road you run the risk of a re-interpretation.



Companies change leadership, dissolve, and are bought out. I'm not familiar with either side’s leadership but I assume Interplay has gone through some form of change in management since sale, different investors, and a different team from the one that originally created the series. Bethesda has also probably had change since the deal was brokered in management and investors as well. As time passes and the original persons who brokered the deal become nothing more then a memory the wording is all that remains.



I think the message we can take away from this incident that as creators, publishers, and developers. It pays to consult legal council, understand the contract your entering on the legal level, what is written in the document not what's said at the table. Secure what you need, because once you've sold it or bought it in the case of IP development rights such things could be hard to recover. Poorly defined terms on what rights you have access to can come back to haunt both parties.



To put it simply:

“Have faith in your fellow man but don't be don't be afraid to fact check.”

George Petras
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In my opinion, Bethesda is saying "Interplay negotiated a bad deal". Interplay thought they could do their Fallout MMO while still getting some money for the Fallout IP. But Bethesda worded the contract to carefully stop this.



I think if the court sides with Interplay it would be because Bethesda was seen as dictating the terms of a contract to a weaker party. Interplay was not in a position to dictate contract language that might have protected them -- they needed some money. Interplay signed the contract on good faith that Bethesda would let them work on the Fallout IP because that is what Interplay was already doing.



However, with two "sophisticated" parties -- parties with contract experience and with access to good counsel, the court could just as likely say "you screwed up -- tough luck." If this happens, Interplay could possibly sue the law firm that represented them -- assuming that it was not in-house counsel.



Interplay might be able settle this out of court by telling Bethesda they will spend every remaining dime they have promoting a Fallout MMO of extremely low quality in an effort to wreck the IP. In turn, they could get Bethesda to give them a big check (but no Fallout IP) as settlement.



I'm very interested in how this turns out.

Mark Venturelli
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Bethesda should just give them a lot of money, get the MMO rights back (maybe even the team and current state of the project) and get over it. They should have bought the "full" IP in the first place.


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