Bethesda trying to lock out Interplay from Fallout IP

Elder Scrolls publisher reportedly accusing original IP owner of using trademarked assets to promote MMORPG.

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Back in June, financially strapped publisher Interplay launched a teaser website for its forthcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Fallout Online. The site used many iconic assets from the series, including the cheery Vault Boy mascot and the stylized Fallout logo.

If Bethesda has its way, Interplay will not be able to use any of the iconic Fallout assets from past games.

The use of Fallout assets did not sit well with Bethesda, which bought the Fallout license outright from Interplay in 2007 for $5.75 million. The deal allowed for Interplay to make a Fallout MMORPG, provided such a project started within two years. In April 2009, Bethesda opted to revoke the Fallout MMORPG rights, just as Interplay had entered into a development deal on the project. The two publishers then sued each other and have spent over a year in litigation.

Now, according to legal documents obtained by industry site Gamasutra, the legal battle between the two companies has re-erupted. On November 19, Bethesda said Interplay's use of the aforementioned Fallout assets was a violation of the two companies' trademark license agreement, an assertion Interplay contested in its own filing on December 3.

Bethesda responded on December 20 with a new filing that said the agreement allowed for the use of the Fallout trademark in conjunction with an MMORPG--and nothing else. It contends that all other Fallout assets, including those used on the teaser website, are the intellectual property of Bethesda and cannot be used in or to promote Fallout Online, which is already in development at Bulgarian shop Masthead Studios (Earthrise). The game is currently slated to launch sometime in 2012.

Discussion

526 comments
RSCNAVYSPAZ
RSCNAVYSPAZ

I couldn't see Fallout Online going well anyways... It wouldn't be surviving/shelters and the awesome style that the others were, it would be all out Miniguns and Rocket Launchers, people going for the best weapons and Armor (power armor) no matter how rediculous it looks. And New Vegas was PUBLISHED by Bethesda, not MADE. Get it right.

Kanden15
Kanden15

If I don't get FO:O, Bethesda won't get my $60 (ever again).

muthergamer
muthergamer

I'm sure Bethesda believes thier legal issues are valid and need addressing, but from a gamer's perspective, I feel they should put a little MORE effort into providing the gaming community with less glitchy/freezing prone games. Fallout: New Vegas for example, freezes so often, I quit playing after it freezes after every other loading screen. If the 'disputed' MMO Fallout they want to create is anything like what they've offered the general public so far...Well, I don't see the general public rushing out to buy this game. Bethesda...even though we love the Fallout series, the glitching/freezing issue is reason enough for me and my friends NOT to shell out the $60 + dollars for your faulty products. Square Enix and other companies seem to be able to give us games that don't have any problems during the loading screens. What is your excuse for giving the public games that constantly need to be updated from the moment we put them into our systems?

The_CJ_Dude
The_CJ_Dude

@Solamon Hmm... it's interesting stuff... :P Of course, we'll never know for sure what is going on! I have to say though, I can see why so many people hated my comment... I'll try and be more positive and clearer next time it comes to something like this!

Solamon
Solamon

@The_CJ_Dude: I see what you mean. I don't really know how to view this personally. I get why Bethesda is so angry, but it's always annoying when junk like this gets in the way of gamers enjoying games. It does seem like Bethesda is being a bit petty, but I get the feeling that something else has happened between these two companies that is making Bethesda try anything they can to stop Interplay from going ahead with their MMO. I wonder why Interplay waited so long to start working on this in the first place?

The_CJ_Dude
The_CJ_Dude

@Solamon I was just saying that it seems ridiculous to go to court over a couple of pictures. Not from a law perspective, but from a... sociological perspective, I guess. I'm not sure what I'd call it. Anyway, I'm from the UK, so I'm not used to what the US sees as right or wrong :P

lindallison
lindallison

@Solamon Well, I was speaking of the creators of the franchise, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky... Uruquhart didn't play a leading creative role til Fallout 2 - same goes for Chris Avellone, and they're the heavy hitters at Obsidian.

Solamon
Solamon

@lindallison: No, I'm afraid your wrong. Some of the team that made Fallout 1 does in fact work at Obsidian (Feargus Urquhart & Darren L. Monahan for two examples) and worked on Fallout New Vegas. At least according to the Fallout Wiki.

Scisor50
Scisor50

@GenericUser12 Believe me, I have read quite a lot of it. And I'm not saying it's simple. But overall it comes down to the same thing.

yeah_28
yeah_28

im a huge fan of the first two fallouts, and even when i liked fallout 3 and new vegas, they cannot compare to the original ones, they are just different, bethesda never captured the escense of fallout.

gq_cjc
gq_cjc

Hopefully Bathesda gets there way with this. A Fallout mmo is going to be garbage. Just make a fallout that allows 2-8 people. NO WITH THE MMO!!!!!!

Pemobian
Pemobian

@ Demonight666 -- "I didn't see any reall fallout series fan enjoying what bethesda did.." -- I am a fan of the original Fallout games who enjoyed FO3 and is currently enjoying New Vegas. Perhaps your sample size was prohibitively small?

Demonight666
Demonight666

To hell with bethesda... they screwed Fallout scenario all arround... I didn't see any reall fallout series fan enjoying what bethesda did.. only the "Newcomers" didn't comply (Because they weren't familiar with the REAL game)... The only good thing about the new fallout is the Engine... and even with that, they screwed with the Game System.. which you have a "Level Limit" and some skills are kinda "Useless" in some points... Like "Lockpick" you need "25" of Lockpick to open a EASY lock, it doesn't matters if you have 70 or 25, nothing changes (Only the FORCE open that NO ONE would never use)

lindallison
lindallison

@Solamon A good lot of the guys who completed Fallout *2* are with Obsidian. The true creators of Fallout founded Troika Games - which has since folded a' course.

oneligas
oneligas

The best solution would be to have Bethesda buy Obsidian and Interplay and make Obsidian take over Interplay. A karma back pay from Black Isle would be funny.

Rashikobell
Rashikobell

Bethesda has more money, and as much as it pains me to say, the more money you have, the more pull you have in legal battles.

Anicsin
Anicsin

DarkGhost is right, but making an MMO is not just the hardest things but the most expensive, and the most beneficial in long-term. Maybe IP wants to make an MMO just so save theirselfs. I think that FO3 was quite a good game, so I'd gladly see such an MMO, but it would be so awesome to see a Fallout MMO of the old atmosphere.

Kevu
Kevu

Macca366 has the Right Idea!

macca366
macca366

I think Interplay should go all in and make a The Elder Scrolls VI teaser site

DarkGhost89
DarkGhost89

What is not mentioned in these articles, is the internal work did got a workable demo to show to Bethesda, though Bethesda still moved to revoke Interplay's rights Now, I admit this is speculation. When Bethesda bought Fallout from near-bankrupt Interplay and agreed to the little MMORPG clause, they had no expectation that Interplay could create something in 2 years. Interplay is broke and making a half-decent MMO is one of the most expensive endeavors in this industry. However, did they got a working game running on middleware. But Bethesda still don't want to give Interplay the acknowledgement. Though I can see Bethesda would see FO as their own after the work they gave to FO3. So from a legal standpoint, I'm leaning towards Interplay. It seems quite underhanded as I believe Bethesda was planning to revoke from the beginning, they just underestimated how far can 5.75 million can go into making an MMO. From a gaming standpoint. I found FO3 fun, but it was Oblivion with guns. Oblivion was fun too and so an Oblivion with guns in an post-apocalyptic world was fun, but it is not Fallout. Look at New Vegas with at the "shades of gray" world with conflict driven by survival and resources between factions who each had their own philosophy to the world versus FO3 where conflict is driven by "the good fight' Brotherhood versus the Evil Enclave. However, Interplay, have almost no money and MMO is one of hardest thing one can do. So legally, Interplay. Gaming-wise, neither.

Darth_Ultima
Darth_Ultima

After that unplayable mess called Fallout New Vegas I believe that the Fallout series will be ruined by Bethesda.

kotetsu2k2
kotetsu2k2

"Yeah you can make a fallout game... but btw you can't use anything that resembles fallout, that's our property... pretty much just use the name k?" Why let them make a game in the first place if you're going to trample all over it, are they really that hard up for cash that they can't stand any competition whatsoever? I love bethesda but this is retarded.

Solamon
Solamon

@The_CJ_Dude: Interplay did not CREATE Fallout, the Fallout developers did and a good lot of those guys now work for Obsidion (aka, the makers of Fallout New Vegas).

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

Even if the MMO did come out it would be a horrible game, Interplay is just full of some of the most lazy and greedy people in the gaming world. If they had actually come up with something within those two years apart from a couple of lousy concept arts none of this would have ever happened. Face it, these leeches were probably planning this all along.

Solamon
Solamon

@ThECoLoNeL00: zenimax buy Interplay? Why the heck would they ever want to purchase the sinking ship that is Interplay? I was a huge fan of the company back in the 80's and 90's but their ship has sailed. The only thing Interplay has left that's of any value is their IP, and most of those are so covered in dust there's no guarantee you can even get a good game out of them.

WaffleBlaster
WaffleBlaster

I get that Bethesda has an upper hand in the legal standpoint but come on, what is Fallout without the vault boy? And anyway, do the assets extend to that of Ghouls and Super Mutants? If so, than what is the point of a Fallout MMO if there is nothing from the originals?

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

Come on Bethesda, don't be a dick, we will still buy your games regaurdless of the MMO. Let them have their fun.

CaptainAhab13
CaptainAhab13

I support Bethesda in this legal eruption. Also, to the guy a few posts below me -- yes, MMORPG players and Fallout/Elder Scrolls players *do* overlap. I'm one of them.

Mr_Clark
Mr_Clark

Well I guess I should put this in a simple way people can understand. Lets say you spend $5000 on a car for you to drive, and the company you bought the car from came back and took it for a joy ride and said it was legal, that is what interplay is doing.

Oni
Oni

If I bought the rights to something for $5.75 million, and the company I bought it from was trying to benefit from the very thing I paid so much for. I believe I would not be too happy either. Interplay had a chance to ride the coattails from the success of Fallout 3. They failed. End of story. Bethesda has every right to protect their investment.

Arab-man666
Arab-man666

Bethesda open world games =/= Wow. Fallout, and The Elder Scrolls mind you, should never be open world games. They cater to two very different audiences. MMORPG players and Fallout players do not overlap.

artic1982
artic1982

Well, i certainly don't care who's gonna develop the game, i just WANT IT. I wonder if they gonna keep the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system or will try to get specific classes. PS: I'm not a fanboy of any of those companies, but Fallout 1 & 2 were WAY -i mean a LOT- better than Fallout 3. And i'm not even counting the glitchs and bugs...

Stoneys_Rock
Stoneys_Rock

Oh no, Bethesda are flexing its rights as stated in a contract interplay willingly signed. Oh no. Besides the fact a fallout MMO which has the potential to bomb, just because its being made doesn't mean its going to be good. APB anyone? good thought great idea crappy implementation it went down in 2 months. Making and sustaining an MMO is a massive undertaking. If its going to be against Bethesda and they are unable to have control of it and it turns out to be massively crap. There is the fallout brand they took to the next gen consoles just pretty much crapped on. It's thanks to Bethesda you played those next gen fallout games so quit whining and let the business do what the business needs to do. I repute any of you who can say you could be the head of Bethesda right now, and not to sue the company making an unauthorised game of a brand you just revived a franchise into next gen popularity, that signed a contract you both decided was fair and who have broken it. Not to mention all the investors and stakeholders whispering in your ear. None of you know a pigs ear of what your talking about. If all of you would allow interplay to continue despite that. you obviously have never ran a business or had the responsibility that comes with an important job in a company.

ThECoLoNeL00
ThECoLoNeL00

why doesnt zenimax just buy interplay and get it over with

nolderine
nolderine

Everything exists to amuse me .Fallout mmo sounds amusing

Planeforger
Planeforger

I'm actually quite happy with Interplay keeping the Fallout MMO license - sure, the game will never get made, but on the plus side it'll never get made *by Bethesda* (in the same way that I'm cool with Bethesda holding the Fallout license, as long as they keep lending it out to devs like Obsidian, who are actually familiar with the Fallout universe). But it is rather messed up for a company to have the rights to develop a game in the series, while not being able to use any of the assets from that series. It would be like a company having the rights to make a Marvel Comics MMO, but being legally barred from including Spiderman, Wolverine, or any other recognisable character. I'm not sure how strong Bethesda's case is here, license-holding or not...

MW2ismygame
MW2ismygame

to be honest from a legal stand point interplay did give up all the rights to the series but i dont care about this red tape as long as we get another masterpiece like FO3

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

And for those who think this game is EVER going to ship, beware that Duke Nukem Forever comes out tommorow.

Briantb_2008
Briantb_2008

I have no issue with interplay making a Fallout mmorpg because I figure they will make a game that doesnt glitch out like we have with Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. The only reason Bethesda is throwing a fit they want the money from making the game themselves

kebebasan
kebebasan

It's getting hard for me to watch the gaming world now. Activision is...well...IT, half of these sites are playing up a certain console, fanboys (fanboys, fanboys), exclusives, gimmicks, etc. I just wish that there could be some consensus for the sake of the industry. Of course money gets in the way of that. Of a lot of things.

ag_04
ag_04

@firesoul88 True, but the "vault dweller" being the absolute center of the universe doesn't make any sense either.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

And even Gamespot is supporting game companies instead of their readers! Just search for Fallout 3 and watch how Fallout New Vegas comes up first... Now which one is the one just out and where the company really wants you to buy it....?!

luc11044
luc11044

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

This is just stupid. Companies like Bethesda are more interested in their 'rights' than they are their customers!

SuperYeti22
SuperYeti22

Interplay is really a whining 3 year old.... "Waaahhhh!!! We gave you our fallout toy that we weren't even using, but you shared your Fallout MMO and your money for us to borrow, but we wasted your money and broke your Fallout MMO toy, so you tried to take it and privileges to the Fallout IP away, so we're going to steal your toys and break them! Waahhh!!!!!" Or maybe more like a 3 year old who let his friend Bethesda have a toy he wasn't using... and crying because he wants it back! If you're gonna be the 3 year old, then I'm gonna be your Daddy! **** off! You let Bethesda have the Fallout IP, so its not yours anymore, its Bethesda's now! And considering the fact that your company is too poor to pay for developement AND a publisher, and you'll ruin the fallout MMO attempting to release it, you really need to **** off and hide under your rockk!

JHG6784
JHG6784

I hope interplay wins this fight, beth is acting insane over this, it not like they haven't had third party company already work on fallout *cough cough New Vegas* and perhaps Interplay will have half of the glitches that Beth (Fallout with Expand doesn't work well with windows 7 Dual Screen) and Obs (Just was a train wreak out of the box) had...... PS. Not only that it starting to get a little sleazy to try an interpret the contract as (O it ok to make Fallout MMORPG but you can't use anything from the fallout franchise.... jesus is there a website so i can donate money to interplay to help with there legal expense)

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

And the looser is..... us.

mohdfaizlamin
mohdfaizlamin

Also, all gaming companies are profit motivated. They need money to develop your favorite games. If they are doing this simply out of kindness, they would be out of business a long time ago. Stop treating your favorite developers as some kind of a Robin Hood figure and grow up

mohdfaizlamin
mohdfaizlamin

People who know nothing about law shouldn't be talking about it

diabloakaSAHA
diabloakaSAHA

i feel sad for interplay. This MMO was critical to their future. Interplay was always on the short end of the deal when the condition was taht they should begin development withing 24 months after the bethsoft acquistion.