Garriott wins $28 million in NCsoft suit

Ultima creator wins out against former employer for breach of contract and fraud.

by

Just a few months after returning to Earth following a 12-day, US$30 million trip to the International Space Station, famed video game entrepreneur Richard Garriott, aka Lord British, announced that he would be leaving Korean publisher NCsoft after seven years with the company in order to pursue other interests.

Lord British has plenty to smile about.

Six months later, Garriott revealed that he was actually fired from NCsoft and subsequently filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court of Texas against the company for breach of contract and fraud amounting to US$24 million in damages.

Garriott's complaint was that he lost millions of dollars when NCsoft forced him to prematurely sell (in just 90 days) a number of stock options the company had given him, rather than being allowed the 10-year period he was promised under his contract if he were ever to be fired.

The suit also claimed that Garriott received this information while still in post-flight quarantine, after returning from the International Space Station, and that the announcement he made regarding his departure from NCsoft had actually been written by the publisher.

Now, Austin daily newspaper the Statesman is reporting that a federal court jury has awarded Garriott US$28 million in the lawsuit after a three-day trial in the US District Court in Austin.

"I am extremely pleased with the jury's decision," Garriott said in a statement. "The facts were clear that my departure from NCsoft was not voluntary. I am very pleased with the final award."

A lawyer representing NCsoft, Laura Merritt, said the Korean publisher will be "considering all options for next steps in the legal process."

Although the initial lawsuit was for US$24 million, the Statesman is reporting that Garriott had asked for US$47 million in order to cover the profit lost by selling his stock options so quickly.

Garriott began working for NCsoft after the publisher bought his Austin-based company, Destination Games. While there, he headed up the six-year development effort for the sci-fi massively multiplayer online role-playing game Tabula Rasa, which launched in late 2007 to lukewarm reviews and technical problems.

Two weeks after Garriott's departure from NCsoft, the publisher shut down Tabula Rasa servers.

Discussion

122 comments
Evenios
Evenios

he created Ultima, give the man his money.

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

Yeah, I honestly don't care unless I'm the one thats going to be making millions of dollars... "what? rich old people? *yawn*"

asimplerapper
asimplerapper

2 more times and there you, another trip to the space station

sircyrus
sircyrus

Woo, go Lord British. I love this guy, he's so off-the-wall. Not only did he make my favorite game of all time, he also lives in a castle and has been to space. He's an astronaut game developer living in a castle. That breaks all the laws of the universe. Now use it to make a damn Ultima Online 2 already! The MMO genre needs it!

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

If this guy swam in pure s***, he'd still come up smelling of roses. Lucky *****

edubb85
edubb85

I doubt he will use that money on anything video game related so dont get your hopes up.

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

good for him, all though I think giving this nut jub more cash could be a bad think

death_dealerK
death_dealerK

this is a good way to put it to the people who screw with you

Cloudslash
Cloudslash

Lemme see here... first he purchases a ride into space and becomes a Space Ace. Then he's rewarded by the powers that be for defeating foul monsters. ... Now if he created one more true Ultima game... a means by which all of us can, in a sense, visit the past, almost as if by time machine... then, truly, EVERYTHING will come full circle. C'mon Lord British, you already have the Gem of Immorality in a sense that most of us mere mortals could never dream of! Finish the Quest of the Avatar and give the gaming world one more Black Gate to travel through! Let this be our Exodus out of this Age of Darkness in PC gaming! Let us be Warriors of Destiny one last time, and prove that I'm no False Prophet!

Darkmoone1
Darkmoone1

What are you gonna do next Lord British? "I'm gonna save the Ultima franchise!" :D One can dream....

thecraponahat
thecraponahat

Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars in other words IDK!!!

ionusX
ionusX

all that development money flushed down the drain.. that's equal to like75% of the money spent on his trashy tabula rasa.. he did this to get his money back nuff said. hes a terrible guy who deserves to rot. he leaves his company to its own devices and take s a TRIP TO SPACE then comes back expecting gifts and rewards so they fire his tail and cut their losses. tbh i think he owes them money for leaving them to fix his mistakes. i also need to ask how he could have still been out on his cosmos journey and still be on the ground for the final days of tabula rasa WHERE HE WAS PRESENT IN-GAME

Triton
Triton

What has he done for me lately...

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

wow fired and got $28 million........ SCORE!

Rekunta
Rekunta

That's a nice way to come out of orbit.

Tarjanian
Tarjanian

This makes me feel so good; kick the corporations in the ass Garriott. I am so sick of these corporations with money going around and buying out small independent companies and later terminating an industry icon all for the sake of MONEY. It has happened too many times in the past and it is nice to see these kinds of victories once in a while, even though they are few and far between. It is nice to see someone as prominent as Richard Garriott stick it to the pathetic suites at NCsoft that squeeze their way into an industry they don't even understand; way to show them who is boss Lord British! I am all for the consensus that Garriott form a new company and get back into making some kick-ass old-school RPGs Lord British style; but sadly I don’t think this will happen...if only because Garriott himself has stated that after that journey into space he is seeing the world from a different light now; the trip changed him. But we can hope!

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Lord British take the money an create worlds like you used to..The pc world needs you..Bring back the rpg the way it used to be..Dont do another mmorpg dont do another ultimate online..Just bring us a huge single player game a world full of adventure..Bring us back ultima like when you where younger..Develop a world that we can live in like the old days )..

Burin077
Burin077

Let's put this in a format we all can refer to! *Ahem* Lord British, you have been provided with a quest! Quest Description: The fans of the Ultima series cry out in agony over the failing franchise that has been grappled by EA, and they cry out to their savior for liberation! Save the Ultima franchise! Current Ultima Franchises Saved: 0/1

moose3469
moose3469

lol he just paid for his space trip

geomyr
geomyr

well done lord british i miss ultima series :(

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

good ncsoft sux, most f2play games are horrible(under-developed/small concept) when theyre free... ....and im certainly not paying more money to upgrade a char in a horrible game, i think alot of devs are missing the point with f2play....u need good core game mechanics/conecpt to build upon ...so quit polishing turds, and make something meaningfull, then i might want to buy a diff costume/weapon/armor for my char.

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

I hadn't realised how closely linked Garriott's firing and the shutting down of Tabula Rasa were. On the plus side - Garriott with $24m sets him up nicely to start funding whatever new game he chooses to make. As such a well known name within the industry he should be able to secure more backing and a publisher

MacenKrace
MacenKrace

What a great way of getting easy money, and being right about that too. I still think Tabula Rasa is not very popular among non-westerners.

aonekaraoke
aonekaraoke

They should of made Tabula Rasa Free to play instead of pulling the can on it.Tabula Rasa was great alt to other MMO that were out at the time.Ncsoft clearly didnt like westerners making mmo or eles it would still be playable out there.

Cloudslash
Cloudslash

I would say that NCSoft lost more than an eighth for messing with Lord British. You do not mess with Lord British. He is just as cool and unbeatable in real life as he is in Ultima. =D

sithodah
sithodah

I wish 3drealms legal battles were this quick.

airshocker
airshocker

@halokillerz What are you talking about? I didn't say ANYTHING about Guild Wars.

Zanoh
Zanoh

Moral of the story - Do not try and screw people over...it bites back hard.

halokillerz
halokillerz

@ airshocker guild wars barely had any grinding. It had some here and there, but those could be done easily.

Monopoman
Monopoman

How some of you are calling this guy a case of the "rich get richer". He wasn't worth crap before Ultima he built a game series that has done really well. Amazing how many people that post comments on this site have no clue what they are talking about. Why don't you go rage at other self made millionaires that built their fortune from being middle class. This is probably one of the most open and closed cases I have ever seen. They tried to screw him they lost period.

fustahman24
fustahman24

@taxonomic How is Garriot an idiot for investing in one of the biggest gaming markets that actually has room to grow? MMO market is in a bad spot currently due to Blizzard's stranglehold in that market. No company has been able to match what they have because too many people play and are dedicated to that game. It takes soo much money and resources in the prerelease development and then the post release support. Whereas casual social-networking games take 1/100 of the resources to develop and enable the developers to see a much better profit margin. Farmville has 650million active subscribers in the world...If I had money I would invest in it too. MMO gaming is dead. The only companies that can survive are those that adopt Turbine's style of F2P. Otherwise the fan base of WoW inflate, then collapses any new release.

Lothos_Delion
Lothos_Delion

Guess he will use the money to buy a ride on the first rocket to Mars next time. Wish he would get back to doing the game thing and this time go back to what started the whole MMO craze. Ultima Online to me was the greatest MMO every developed for its time. Would love to see something new along those lines.

GravityDs
GravityDs

i would like to see another sci fi based fps MMO done right. Ultima would be cool too, either way, I think he could probably put something together that would be worth playing.

airshocker
airshocker

@ecko1o Because I have less fun playing Asian grinders than I do playing Western ones?

ecko1o
ecko1o

@airshocker Why mention only asian ones? It's clear you have racial prejudice against asians because western companies churn out grinder MMOs just as asian companies do.

maverick_76
maverick_76

So that is what it costs to go into space? Man need to make some money fast!

airshocker
airshocker

@ecko1o Hating a common MMORPG template doesn't make me a racist.

SpotonRisotto
SpotonRisotto

If he makes a Ultima for Facebook I might have to sign up for it!

ecko1o
ecko1o

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

tyco_ex
tyco_ex

As long as this doesn't affect gw2 in any way i could care less.

airshocker
airshocker

I really like Garriot, I'm glad he got the money he deserves. I hope NCSoft burns to the ground. All asian-grinder MMOs need to burn as well.

Wylen0
Wylen0

Tabula rasa was just flawed but the design was there you could tell it had alot of potential, but of course it wasnt kept up. And this man deserves all the money he got that is not rite for them to try and pull something like that

taxonomic
taxonomic

Great, now Garriott can make all those casual Facebook games he claimed would be the future of gaming. What a buffoon.

djwood84
djwood84

Glad to hear it! I was pretty ticked off when I heard they fabricated his exit letter. I can't believe they thought that was legal, or that they would get away with doing something so obviously illegal.

Slammer612
Slammer612

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

Good for Lord British. :) All evidence points that NCSoft did indeed falsely forge an announcement from Garriott saying that he was leaving, when in fact they fired him. That they did this while he was still in quarantine is such an a-hole move. I understand that publishers are out to make money, but how they think they can screw over their lead developers when they have clear contacts is beyond me. Tecmo tried to rip off Itagaki last year as well, and the courts ruled against them. Sounds like the management at NCSoft needs to go back for ethics training.

wilson336
wilson336

Monson said "so he got to go on a space trip that cost the usa tax payers 30 million dollars!!!? then when he got back, he gets sue NCsoft for 28 million" Wow. Read up on your facts before stating obviously false things. It was all over the news that Russia sells seats to private citizens on their space flights. Lance Bass (of questionable music fame) was one of the first to attempt to buy a seat about a decade ago.

Gamerz1569
Gamerz1569

@monson21502 It didn't cost US taxpayers a single cent. There's a reason it's called "space tourist"

Nicaboy456
Nicaboy456

well the rich just get richer now dont they???

Banshee
Banshee

The guys worth billions. I'm sure he paid for his trip out of pocket.