Double Fine countersues Activision - Report

Brutal Legend developer says publisher scuttled Jack Black-starring game after a failed attempt to turn it into a Guitar Hero sequel, studio's future depends on successful launch.

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At the height of last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, reports surfaced that Activision was suing Double Fine Productions to stop the release of the studio's upcoming game, Brutal Legend. The battle is ongoing, but Double Fine is not going down without a fight.

Barring a court order, Brutal Legend is set for an October 13 release.

According to the Associated Press, Double Fine Productions last week countersued Activision. The countersuit alleges that Activision filed its claim specifically to hurt the San Francisco-based developer, which also said the company's continued survival depends on Brutal Legend. Double Fine is also accusing Activision of unlawful business practices and trying to prevent the game's release just to thin out potential competition to the publisher's own Guitar Hero franchise.

While they may fight for a limited amount of shelf space and consumer dollars, the music-themed action game Brutal Legend and the rhythm game Guitar Hero don't compete in the same genre. However, Double Fine's suit says that Activision canceled the studio's game after an aborted attempt to convert it into a Guitar Hero sequel.

Activision first gained the publishing rights to Brutal Legend in July 2008, when it won approval for its merger with then-publisher Vivendi Games. However, Activision soon thereafter revealed the list of Vivendi titles it would be pursuing, and Brutal Legend didn't make the cut. Enter Electronic Arts, which later that year added Double Fine to its EA Partners program and set the game on course for an October debut. While Activision's suit claimed it never relinquished the publishing rights to the game, Double Fine is hoping to get a judge's ruling that the publisher terminated its agreement with the studio.

When asked if the legal dispute had affected the game's launch plans, an EA representative simply told GameSpot, "Rocktober 13th, 2009 in North America, Rocktober 16th everywhere else."

Activision has filed a motion to prevent Brutal Legend's release. According to the AP, a hearing on that motion is scheduled for July 30.

Discussion

179 comments
Genrak
Genrak

Brutal Legend will rock as Tim Schafer rock. You went to far Activision. Stop milking and start breeding instead!

zaveline
zaveline

Hope EA Wins the Lawsuit Hell They Will because they have the most powerful Company in the Gaming Industry

bloodyboy2020
bloodyboy2020

Greed can be the only word that can describe this. activision already has cod modern warfare which is dominating the market. people are even changing there release dates so that modern warfare 2 doesnt beat them out. this is like the only game they have

p00phead
p00phead

Who thinks they are going to far with Guitar Hero

azureblade89
azureblade89

I almost feel bad about dropping 150 dollars for MW2 : PE but damnit, just because Activision is fueled by douchebaggery they still own the rights to one of my favorite series. I'll be taking a week off from work for both titles, but I can honestly say that Brutal Legend will defintely be my personal GOTY

Baramos6
Baramos6

@shyshyshy She's a man baby. (Austin Powers :P, you know when he tried pull the "wig" off Basil's mother? Nah I'm a dude... well I guess the mask does the job) Anyways, I stick by my comment, why would Activision be doing this? Think about it, this stuff hits everywhere, why would they purposely ruin their reputuation especially with all the games their publishing..? Why? (Edit, sorry bout double post, tried deleting it, didn't work. Stupid Internet...)

Baramos6
Baramos6

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

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

activision got the BEEF! this time, but hopefully i'll get that game.

Gambitcrawfish
Gambitcrawfish

Also, EA has been pumping out and supporting some great titles. I'm gaining some respect for them finally.

Gambitcrawfish
Gambitcrawfish

I'm finally boycotting Activision. I'm not buying Wolfenstein of MW2. A shame really, they looked like great games. Oh well, a boycott is a boycott. Go screw yourselves, Asstivision.

solidine
solidine

Great. This is so rediculous. The judge should just look at guitar hero and Brutal Legend, award Double Fine tons of money, and end the problem. Either way, I want this game.

0Aragorn0
0Aragorn0

This counter suit makes this game that much cooler. Hope Double Fine wins at least enough to shut up Activision. I love how they couldn't care less for the game when they didn't think it would sell, but now that it looks like it will be a good game they suddenly want it back. Like you're not going to milk enough money out of Call of Duty or Guitar Hero?

IIFoxmanII
IIFoxmanII

I've lost all respect for Activision. Brutal Legend's gonna be great.

SocialAnXieTy
SocialAnXieTy

Wow.. I know that Guitar Hero was at its peak back when they still had the rights to Brutal Legend, but did they really have to try this? Just because this was a music-oriented video game doesn't mean it needs to be an addition to their already-convoluted Guitar Hero library. Then, when the obviously doomed conversion didn't work, they just drop it like a bag of bricks? What idiots. Honestly, I know Guitar Hero was and is immensely big, but come on. Activision lost a load of respect when they first made this lawsuit.. but after hearing that, I have no respect for them whatsoever. I'm now at a crossroad on whether or not to buy MW2 from retail or used.. Infinity Ward deserves my money, but Activision doesn't whatsoever.

Paladin_King
Paladin_King

@mightycloud I totally agree with you. After their solid efforts supporting games like Mirror's Edge, Dead Space, and Spore last year, the EA hate needs to stop. Frankly it's outdated. EA haters need to look no further than Activision. Activision has quickly become everything that people hated about EA. The lawsuits, the yearly titles...the other shoe WILL drop.

mightycloud
mightycloud

After years (or maybe even a decade) of hating the coporate machine that EA had become, they've finally looked at themselves and realised what it means to publish games that go against the grain. Activision on the other hand have now gained the honour of worst publisher after dropping all those good titles and trying to grab every last penny they can, evils to you Activision/Blizzard.

SciFiCat
SciFiCat

"Whatever their other contributions to our society, lawyers could be an important source of protein." Guindon cartoon caption "If you laid all of the lawyers in the world, end to end, on the equator ---- It would be a good idea to just leave them there." Unknown

shyshyshy
shyshyshy

We should be wary though. This might be an attempt to seed in publicity. Of course, developers will do anything in their power to catch attention. Come to think about, the report did say that EA engaged in a partnering program with Activision. A good move though, I must admit. Launching a debut IP, which had an unstable pre- and mid-production plans to begin with, is a high-risk--er--game. Both companies would have to cement their assets and to do that--milk the end user's (consumers) and make sure the cows are plumped and ready to get milked as well. Who's to say this isn't one (EA and Activision) of their devious plans and throw in a big stone in the pond to create a big splash? I mean, Baramos6 did say that he/she didn't read anything good on the comments that would justify Activision's actions. In fact, it would seem that if Activision were really serious about this lawsuit, it would ruin their reputation. The logic just doesn't seem right to me. I'm not saying this issue isn't real. We just have to be on our guards, I mean--we are getting the end of the stick, aren't we? I hope just it's the longer end.

DrKill09
DrKill09

Activision are freakin evil. Worse than EA ever were

Baramos6
Baramos6

I still don't see why Activision would do this, don't they know it's ruining their image? Is that what they want? From all the replies to this subject I haven't really seen many people saying "go Activision go!" From what i can gather,Activision is pretty much shooting themselves in the foot, for Christ's sake, your making your rival look good! Just stop it Activision, you won't stop this game from being released, you'll waste your time in court, you're already losing the respect of your fans and are going lose more if you don't drop it, and you'll just make yourselves look like a bunch of children. I also wouldn't be surprised if this game does extremely well and Activision would try to get in on it again. Read the damn boards for once Activision...two words...bad move.

deadcowboy6
deadcowboy6

Brutal Legend is gonna be great and Activision didn't realize it until after it was dropped, and if i remember the article they said it was because it didn't have the potential for multiple sequels, just like the GhostBusters game they dropped.

damonkeypirate
damonkeypirate

It sucks to see a cool stylized game get beat up before it even comes out...!

McGregor
McGregor

Wish activision had seen the potential of this game before it decided to drop it. I know releasing new IP's is hard and risky, but sometimes the risk is worth it. In the end I hope activision gets nothing from this because they didn't put in any risk.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

An all metal guitar hero would be nice but a Brutal Hero would suck. All companies get really douchey when they're on top, look at Activision and Nintedo, before it was EA but now they're much better.

tevic
tevic

A Guitar Hero sequel, sh*t... Activision sti*nks !!!

Ghoulish_Visage
Ghoulish_Visage

@ semajaral We don't wish death *exaggeration* on the average employee of Activision, I'm sure that if you had to approach one of the CEOs and ask them to stop producing shovel-ware you'd either be laughed at or fired. Most of my anger is directed at the fat cats at the top of the corporate food-chain, who smother most new ingenuity with countless of sequels and stale recipes. And now the dickery of trying to claim back IPs that they threw away. And on top of that they screwed with Tim Schafer, nobody screws with Tim Schafer. So I say; BURN THE FAT CATS!

Ghoulish_Visage
Ghoulish_Visage

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

snake3rules
snake3rules

This is literally the exact same thing that happened to Watchmen with Fox -- They let their rights lapse, or whatever, and after the reins had been picked up by someone else, and then the product developed and brought all the way to completion by the new team... Only to have the old company horn in and try to capitalize on others work. If these companies gave up the right at any point, then they should have no rights... Fox and activision both strategically waited until the product was finished, when theyve known that others were working on it YEARS before they file any claims. They could have just as easily funded the people who ended up making it, but they chose not to... So they shouldn't be able to reap the rewards of others, even if its only a small percentage of the profits. But thats what will happen if Double Fine loses -- The game wont be delayed, they'll just fork over a percentage... thats why the rep for brutal legend so confidently announces "rocktober 13th" in the face of large legal battles

cutmaclass1
cutmaclass1

Guitar Hero is to Activision as Scientology is to Tom Cruise. The more we learn about the depths Activision sinks to for GH, the more it buries its popularity.

Hekynn
Hekynn

Actvision needs to stop this sure people will still buy their games but man the company it self is just totally CRAZY!!

semajaral
semajaral

Brutal Legend is going to rock! Activision will most likely lose the suit because I see no legitimacy in it. However, for all of you hoping that the outcome of this case somehow cripples the company, please think of the numerous people, such as myself that are employed by them. Its kind of dispicable that you would wish hardship on people you do not even know simply because you do not like the company as a whole. I don't particularly like every game that comes out of Activision, but to be honest, they have made some damn good titles and the company has been good to the majority of its employees. I wouldn't wish that the McDonalds most of you morons who post idiotic comments like these closes down because I don't particularly like the re-designed McRiib, or because Jack in the Box was suing to stop the release of the Shamrock Shake. This has real world ramifications for people so please consider that before you make statements on topics that you know NOTHING about.

DarkProwl
DarkProwl

...I can believe that. Activision... what a bunch of douchebags. Everybody go out and buy Brutal Legend when (...if) it comes out. On my birthday. :D

FusionRain
FusionRain

wow activision i still like u... but ur starting to turn into a real ass of a company maybe u guys need to think about things be for u close the door on games that have the potential to be good

Irve
Irve

@SDMF_TrueBlue think you'll find it's 10% increase .. just to test the waters to see if all big name releases can be costed extra problem is ... i think it will still sell and people won't care.

anarchist4eva
anarchist4eva

Want to see Activision get what they deserve? When this thing blows over, and it will, go buy Brutal Legend published by EA. Even if the game sucks major a** you can always sell it @ Gamestop on the cheap. Activision will lose all that money & Double Fine will rake it in. Gamers will pat themselves on the back having showed Activision who is boss! By the way; I'm calling out the Street Fighter 4 modders and Capcom. We need the CEO of Activision, this Kotick clown, as dlc so we can kick the snot out of him everytime they pull some boneheaded move over there.

devilscry
devilscry

just more take my ball and go home BS. you didn't want to release the game, why cause so much problems for another company to? just face facts, you couldn't see the potential of the IP, its going to make someone else millions and you missed out cause you wouldn't stand behind it. I mean to me its pretty simple, if activision can explain and give good reason why they intended not to release the game before they even attempt to explain why they think they have a right to hold it back then by all means they win. but that aint gonna happen

ahyumifan
ahyumifan

oh my god... activision is being *** lately. Don't make me hate you.

McGregor
McGregor

It's almost depressing that a company like blizzard has to be associated with activision. Wish activision would accept that they made a mistake letting this IP go and move on.

SDMF_TrueBlue
SDMF_TrueBlue

Activision is whoring out hard. They're trying to stop this game from being released just because they didn't want to publish it, and they've increased the cost of MW2 in Great Britain 5% because they believe consumers are willing to pay for it. Holy crap someone stop them.

zomglolcats
zomglolcats

Activision is using the Blizzard/WoW juggernaut to stuff their coffers and fund these ridiculous law suits.

12345678ew
12345678ew

rofl, activision is gonna get screwed over from being such dicks.....every ps3 fan hates them now, most of gamespot hates them for messing with tim shaffer, and their only good games are call of duty. they'll still be rich, but they'll NEVER be able to make or get a new IP again.

swamptick
swamptick

The battle between Activision-Blizzard and EA continues. Who will win? The badguys or the dark side?

bschroth
bschroth

In some parallel universe they would sentence Kotick to be Tim's butler.

akiwak
akiwak

I am beginning not to like activision what a bunch of RICHARD CRANIUMS!!!

Mist00
Mist00

activison is such a dick tracey

cutmaclass1
cutmaclass1

Just more proof that Activision cares nothing about the games it releases. Yet there are people out there who insist in defending Guitar Hero as if it were an actual new game and not just a box with an old game inside of it. Despicable. As Supericano said, Activision dropped Brutal Legend because it didn't see potential to exploit it yearly.

schawnneo
schawnneo

I'm so disgusted by Activison!