Hasbro, Atari tangle over D&D rights

Toy maker claims publisher violated Dungeons & Dragons licensing rights by trying to sublicense projects to competitor Namco Bandai, wants out of deal entirely.

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Ordinarily, Dungeons & Dragons battles are determined by a roll of the dice. However, a newly surfaced licensing dispute over the brand is unlikely to end so quickly, or so cleanly.

Unlike a spirited bout of legal sparring, Dungeons & Dragons Online is free-to-play.

Dungeons & Dragons owner Hasbro today announced that it has filed suit against longtime gaming partner Atari, alleging that the publisher "may have" struck an unauthorized sublicensing deal with Namco Bandai for Dungeons & Dragons game rights. Currently, there are no announced Atari Dungeons & Dragons projects in which Namco Bandai has any involvement.

Hasbro considers Namco Bandai a competitor for both its toy business and its Wizards of the Coast brand, which makes the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game. In addition to video games, Namco Bandai produces toys and collectible card games for a number of properties, including its own Naruto and Dragon Ball series. A sublicensing agreement with a competitor like Namco is prohibited under the contract between Hasbro and Atari, the toy maker contends.

In a statement, Hasbro said it had been working with Atari on an out-of-court resolution for months before filing suit. The company is asking for compensatory damages and the termination of the Dungeons & Dragons licensing agreement with Atari.

Atari countered the allegations with its own prepared statement, calling the charges "meritless" and "an apparent attempt to unfairly take back rights granted to Atari."

"Atari has sought to resolve the matter without cooperation from Hasbro," the publisher said. "We regret that our long-time partner has decided to pursue this action. Atari will respond appropriately through its legal counsel in court."

This is the second time this year Atari has found itself in court over its role-playing game license. In August, Dungeons & Dragons Online developer Turbine Inc. sued Atari, claiming the publisher was deliberately under-promoting the free-to-play relaunch of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game as part of a licensing termination strategy. The suit alleged that Atari was planning to then launch its own competing massively multiplayer online role-playing game under the brand, possibly referring to the rumored Neverwinter Nights MMOG.

Discussion

44 comments
hemoleech
hemoleech

I hope Hasbro drops D&D because I really don't like the direction they're putting it in, like with 4.0.

Keasar
Keasar

I do find it interesting that there hasn't been very many DnD games over the last few years and Hasbro is trying to renig on its publishing deal. I don't find it surprising as Hasbro have pulled a few shady contractual and legal stunts over the last year or so. I find it more interesting that Atari is willing to lose its on going relation with Hasbro. Maybe this is just a sign that the DnD properties aren't worth their salt anymore. At this point in time I think inforgrams/Atari is a crappy computer game company and Hasbro has hurt the DnD market with its 4.0 debacle. The best thing that could happen to DnD is to be sold off from Hasbro to a new company and the computer games being made by a company that can actually make good games...

Meepo_Sose
Meepo_Sose

It is about more than just video games. Any electronic rules adjudication falls under the license. This includes virtual tabletop applications like Fantasy Grounds II.

DumbBaldMonkey
DumbBaldMonkey

@Ceraby: The gaming industry has always been messy and corporate... look at the start of Tetris... a loooot of fighting over the rights to publish that

Ceraby
Ceraby

Wow, I don't remember the gaming industry being this messy and corporate...

MatzeEdend
MatzeEdend

I still have a paid membership for D&D online... its a cool game, but as far as MMOs go its actually more similar to Guild Wars in that the only real massive multiplayer areas are in the city hubs. Honestly though, D&D core rules don't translate very well to an MMO. If I had to take bets on this lawsuit, I think this one is based entirely on rumors, and that there isn't any credible evidence to support the idea of Namco Bandai having any deal with Atari based on the D&D license.... Atari is just an unlucky target for lawsuits lately.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

It's bad enough we get so few deep RPG's nowadays without this argument making them even less so!

wraithbladeuk
wraithbladeuk

What is it with the wave of stupid lawsuits recently? It seems all you have to do nowadays is bump into someone and you're looking at a lawsuit for Illegal Invasion of Private and Personal Space resutling in distress and loss of income. I think everyone just needs to get over themselves a little bit and grow up... Fail, Hasbro, Fail.

bennae66
bennae66

displacer beasts are cool. so is the city of phlan

Gauzz
Gauzz

Ok guys... stop saying "give D&D to BioWare"... they already have Dragon Age... although if BioWare has had those right they would made an awesome game... would be nice if they toke the DA engine and made a game but D&D based... anyway that is just a dream... ok Hasbro STFU... let atari work with the license just make toys and shut up... no one are going to listen you... in fact everybody hates you!

justinrscott
justinrscott

NWN1 rocked! BioWare is the one that rocked it! Obvious choice to me... I mean, did anyone play Temple of Elemental Evil? This was Atari's first D&D attempt under this license. Boo!!!!! This game was freakin' awful! I actually keep it installed so I can show new friends how bad and boring it was. LOL

tig1979
tig1979

I would like to see a DnD game based on the old animation, wouldn't it be ace to play as Venger and demolish the kids!!!!

Hillsy_
Hillsy_

Agree with @gwailo2470, Pools of Radiance, Champions of Krynn & Curse of the Azure bonds were all great. Along with some others like Eye of the Beholder etc...etc...

gwailo2470
gwailo2470

Those SSI games were pretty awesome. Back when game developers actually had to make a good game rather than rely on pretty graphics to make up for poor gameplay.

Hekynn
Hekynn

Give the rights to freaking BIOWARE! Bioware is the best at making rpgs and hell some D&D games.

bussinrounds
bussinrounds

Yea, give it to bioware, like everyone's saying. But none of this 4th edition ruleset bs. Base it off the 2nd edition. Like kemet said ( i think ), there was so much untapped content in D&D that never made it too video games. Bring us back the old school stuff !!!

kemet
kemet

there r endless cool spells like cube of force and endless modules like hall of bones if they actually made a d & d on ps3 with all those cool monster like jubalex and fightn in hell so give it to bioware

strayfies
strayfies

Bioware already handled a few D&D software titles and didn't do nearly as bad a job as this online joke of a game. Almost anything would be a step up from these clowns, so it's a win-win.

DragonMage2k4
DragonMage2k4

"That wasnt Black Isle actually. Interplay had already shut down the company, they just stamped the Black Isle logo on the game to increase sales. Its a sore spot for many Black Isle fans." Actually the first BG: Dark Alliance game was done by Snowblind Studios. BG: Dark Alliance II was done internally by Interplay and the team was made up of the remaining Black Isle developers and the Digital Mayhem crew.

alixkid
alixkid

And Just to defend the Atari Name ( i played many of there games growing up) What you see of Atari today is not really Atari. They just own the name, and they are trying to get whatever they can anyway they can. What a shame.

alixkid
alixkid

How about give to to BioWare Pre EA!!

Concordia44
Concordia44

@gfmetal: Good one! I believe the DC to be pretty steep though, around 28-30ish! A Headband of Legal Knowledge would give you a +5 on the roll though!

Taevataat
Taevataat

I agree with Jackowisp, give it to BioWare!

Jackowisp
Jackowisp

if anyone in hasbro is reading this, give D&D to Bioware!!!

BtmnHatesRbn
BtmnHatesRbn

Let's see...SSI had the D&D license when they were bought by Hasbro almost a decade ago. Hasbro then licenses properties, with the Atari name as well, to Infogrames, a company that's downright sleazy and strange as the last decade of poor titles has shown. Before SSI, Capcom had the license for a five-year stint, then SSI got it back in bidding. So, Hasbro has been licensing the D&D brand to Infogrames this whole time? Then Namco is a strange one. Founded as part of Time Warner's original Atari, just as a Japanese unit, in the late 1970s, then functioned as part of Tengen when Atari was split into Atari Games and Atari, Inc. Atari Games was then bought by Midway, and Namco was left alone to become their own company. Then they bought Nintendo-owned Bandai (leaving 31% in the hands of Nintendo still). Well, Hasbro needs to take this court to sort it out. I think since Hasbro bought SSI, they own the license.

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

Atari have done almost nothing with the Dungeons and Dragons license it have. Its time for DnD to go to another publisher who will make better quality games that would be bring to some worthiness to the namesake.

Shiftfallout
Shiftfallout

@ green_dominator That wasnt Black Isle actually. Interplay had already shut down the company, they just stamped the Black Isle logo on the game to increase sales. Its a sore spot for many Black Isle fans. Atari has been letting the D&D franchise pretty much rot. I still cant believe they let turbine license it for DDO.

green_dominator
green_dominator

Hardly anything Atari does is any good save Bauldur's Gate Dark Alliance but that was Black Isle Studios' work not Atari. I wasn't even aware Hasbro had any involvement with D&D then again I never paid attention, The few good games released under the banner I just enjoyed..... I'd like to see this all resolved and a good game released, I'd love to see another Dark Alliance game come out.....

gfmetal
gfmetal

what's the appropriate saving throw against a lawsuit? will, i suppose

XT-inc
XT-inc

They should just make a Online, digital version of the actual game. With customization options so DM's can run their own stories with friends online. It would be like the table top game, but with better character customization and effects for character actions IMO. They could even sell DLC with maps and stuff from the magazine.

Zero5000X
Zero5000X

I would love for EA/BioWare, Obsidian, or CD Projekt to get the D&D rights.

Koawinter
Koawinter

Hasbro needs to go back to Bioware! Let's see some new titles in the Faerun world... Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights are some of my favorite games. I know that bioware has said (look for the interview with the cofounder of bioware on Star Wars) that they would be interested in doing more games based on those rules.

oneligas
oneligas

D&D, somebody should say stick to the dice

shii666
shii666

Personally, I think Atari would be far better off with the rights to the franchise than Hasbro. Ultimately, I think Bioware or Bethesda should attain the rights because they are really good at making RPGs.

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

I hope Hasbro snatches back the rights. Atari/Infograms doesn't treat the licence very well. I would love to see it get into someone's hands who actually cares. It would be great to see a game using their Birthright Campaign Setting but with 4E rules.

GodsPoison
GodsPoison

Atari trying to fight Hasbro? thats like an ant tryin to fight a kid with a magnifying glass on a sunny day.......

FoeCrusher
FoeCrusher

I have recently discovered DDO free to play and it is awsome. It is a great interpretation of D&D rules and cuts out the endless travel of most other MMOs. Turbine has really impressed me. My friends and I play once a week and we arent worrying about $15 a month. I have played all the NWN games. NWN2 has been rather boring and has a terrible graphics engine.

starbead
starbead

D&D is pretty much dead as a video game concept anyway. It was instrumental in establishing the RPG on computers, but most devs would rather not have to adhere to its massive set of rules. Maybe someone could come along and revitalize the franchise, but right now it isn't looking likely.

cubeace6
cubeace6

damn isnt Atari almost completly bankrupt yet

Hollowdimension
Hollowdimension

Think of the children. What will happen to little Neverwinter Nights