The ongoing saga of the Fallout massively multiplayer online role-playing game has taken another turn. Late last week, Interplay announced that it has finalized its agreement with Masthead Studios to develop the title, code-named Project V13. Last April, the Irvine, California-based publisher announced it had "signed a binding letter of intent" with the Bulgarian shop, which is also developing the unreleased postapocalyptic RPG Earthrise.
In the course of the announcing the new Masthead deal, controversial Interplay CEO Herve Caen revealed when the public will first be able to play Project V13. "This MMOG will have many unique features that we will disclose before launch of the public beta in 2012," declared the executive in a statement.
The announcement comes in the midst of a legal battle between Interplay and Bethesda Softworks, developer and publisher of Fallout 3. The dispute stems from a disagreement about the deal, which saw Bethesda purchase the Fallout IP for $5.75 million in 2007 and then license the Fallout MMORPG rights back to Interplay.
The license agreement had a stipulation that Interplay had to start full-time development within two years or the Fallout MMORPG rights would revert to Bethesda. Two years later, Bethesda terminated the deal, citing Interplay's lack of progress on Project V13. In a lawsuit filed in September, Bethesda accused Interplay of not having enough money to move forward with the game.
The following month, Interplay accused Bethesda of acting in bad faith in a countersuit. It quickly released the first concept art for Project V13, claiming that work on the game was proceeding apace. In December, a judge agreed, denying Bethesda's request for an injunction that would have halted all work on Interplay's MMORPG.
However, even with a legal green light, Project V13 faces many obstacles on the road to release--foremost of which is Interplay's shaky financial state. In its last financial report, the company reported a loss of $1.052 million on $854,000 of income for the nine months ending September 30, 2009, thanks mostly to $1.48 million in "general and administrative" costs. During that same period, the company reported it had only spent $195,000 on product development.