LOS ANGELES--The threat of a court-ordered shutdown isn't stopping Interplay from moving ahead with Fallout Online. This morning, the once-nearly bankrupt company launched a teaser site for the massively multiplayer game, which was previously known by its code name, Project V13. After offering some visual references to the first two Fallout games, released in the 1990s, the site asks visitors to sign up for a newsletter to be considered for the game's beta test.
In development at Masthead Studios, the Bulgarian shop developing the postapocalyptic role-playing game Earthrise, Fallout Online has been the subject 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 massively multiplayer online role-playing game 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 Fallout Online, 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, Fallout Online faces many obstacles on the road to release--foremost of which is Interplay's shaky financial state. In a financial report released last year, 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.