Turbine sues Atari over D&D MMOG

Speculation of a Neverwinter Nights MMOG reemerges, as Dungeons & Dragons Online creator files suit over publisher's efforts to terminate licensing agreement.

Between two massively multiplayer online games launching within 12 months of each other, Cryptic Studios has a lot on its plate. However, that load seemed to increase in June, when Variety reported that Cryptic's parent company Atari was tasking the Los Gatos, California-based studio with an MMOG based in the Dungeons & Dragons universe of Neverwinter Nights.

The bailiff for these proceedings...

One more piece of evidence pointing to that game surfaced today, though that clue comes from an unlikely place. Courthouse News reports that Turbine Inc. has filed suit against Atari in New York, arguing that the publisher breached an agreement related to the D&D license. In 2003, Turbine licensed the rights to make D&D MMOGs from Atari, and it currently operates Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach.

As it pertains to Cryptic's rumored D&D MMOG, Turbine claims that Atari is deliberately under-promoting the relaunch of D&D Online under its new free-to-play business model as part of a licensing-agreement "termination" strategy. The suit claims that this termination strategy is being pursued in bad faith, as Atari plans to launch its own competing product.

Turbine also alleges through the suit that Atari breached its contract by continuing to accept payments related to the licensing agreement. That, despite the publisher's plans to deprive Turbine of its D&D license and proceed with its own online D&D game, the suit contends.

The Courthouse News report does not specify what Atari's competing product might be. Atari had not yet responded to requests for comment as of press time. A Turbine representative declined to comment on the matter.

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Discussion

33 comments
Rottenwood
Rottenwood

This is terrible news. What will happen to the 17 people still playing this game?

mbwbamb
mbwbamb

As a long time DDO player I can say that Atari did terrible promotion at launch 3+ years ago and nothing since. Even with the relaunch as F2P a large number of media sites are covering the game, but #%()!#% "producer" Atari still doesn't even list the game on their web site. I hope Turbine gets money out of Atari. POS publisher needs to go away.

september_basic
september_basic

Of course it should be understood that Turbine might be lying or fabricating. Atari might also be lying. Until there are improvements in entertainment media, it doesn't matter to me. It's just a stupid deception all the way around. Of course it would be all the more interesting if AD&D 1st or 2nd edition was used or 3rd edition D&D was used. We all hate 4th edition D&D.

GaRdYbOy
GaRdYbOy

Ain't this kinda LATE ?!

Valas_Azuviir
Valas_Azuviir

@Sagimore With all due respect, that's your opinion that 2nd ed was the worst edition, not a fact. I'm a 2nd ed gamer, and I found 3rd ed needlessly complex in some regards. And before you start with any insults with regards to my intelligence. I've also played Rolemaster, and their system isn't exactly plug-an-play either, but I found it a lot easier to figure out than 3rd ed. Hence, why I voted with my wallet and stopped purchasing WOTC RPG material. The whole 3rd ed folks slagging off the 2nd ed folks (even in official material like Dragon Magazine) wasn't particularly endearing either. Because I've seen the switchover from 1st ed to 2nd ed as well, and that was handled a hell of lot more maturely and professional. So the derision displayed left more than a foul taste in my mouth.

sagimore
sagimore

4th Edition is WoW set to DnD or any MMO set to DnD, its horrible just like 2nd edition was- do our homework, 2nd was the worst edition. DDO has a case against Atari, they are paying for a service which atari didnt rpovide. Atari might want to recall the D&D license from DDO but that isnt what this suit is about- This was pre-emptive. By the time Atari tries to recall the DDO license after this suit, we are looking at 4 to 5 years. And if Atari loses this case, then you can kiss them ever getting the license back.. Don't look for NWN MMO any time soon. Atari is Junk

StMalice
StMalice

@Sept_Basic. 4th edition is the finest of all the editions ever released and takes more from 2nd edition than it does 3rd. So let me generalize much like you did. Everyone knows 3rd and 3.5 editions were made for lazy cheaters who want to powergame and not actually make any kind of effort. It's the most broken system of rules ever created. Made for people who's electronic game style revolves around getting cheat codes before a game is even installed or played. Let's hope they use 4th edition, because not only is it a solid system it translates very well for programming.

september_basic
september_basic

First of all, Turbine screwed up the Eberron D&D MMORPG. Turbine decided to use bound and "flow-chart" terrain models rather than open terrain ranges where artificial boundaries to movement don't exist. Furthermore, it doesn't play like D&D. Had Turbine played Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura and Temple of Elemental Evil, they'd know how to put together a D&D MMORPG. And they don't seem to take D&D very seriously either. An entertainment company that doesn't take its subject matter (nor audience) seriously is a tragic flaw in the entire industry. As long as Cryptic doesn't design the NWN MMO, it might rock. After all, Cryptic screwed up City of Heroes and didn't learn from their mistake in the design of Champions. Furthermore, given that Champions isn't going to use the RPG rules, we probably cannot trust that Cryptic would use D&D rules... unless it's the sickeningly dumb Fourth Edition. Everyone knows Fourth Edition D&D is made by drooling morons for drooling morons. Fourth Edition combined with Cryptic Studios would be taking a dump on Dungeons and Dragons for ever. Let's hope that this new Neverwinter Nights MMORPG is just a 2nd edition AD&D or 3rd edition D&D MMO set in Forgotten Realms. Hopefully it will be designed by independent contractors like Brenda Bartwaithe. It's not like Brenda will save the entire game but she's a good start.

Leonagard
Leonagard

OMG... NWN will be a shame without mod and will fail as MMO!! dont do that!! Atari

Inconnux
Inconnux

Does anyone actually play that game? I'm an old school D&D player and that MMO didn't interest me in the least.... now that it is going to be free... well you get what you pay for...

Misfit119
Misfit119

Honestly it doesn't matter how people feel about the quality of the game, Atari is in the wrong here. You can't ask someone to pay you money so that they can have exclusive rights to a license and then try to undercut them. That's really messed up and I hope Turbine takes them to task in court for it. I don't even like DDO and I'm hoping Atari gets royally reamed by this. Atari should buy out Turbine, shut down DDO and turn all of its attention to their new game instead of acting like scuzzy businessmen.

Neogenic
Neogenic

@ aura enchanted I agree. It will only be a matter of time before you see that in the headlines. Everyone just wants a slice of someone elses pie these days. These lawsuits have got to hurt a companies profits as well...

Neogenic
Neogenic

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

sircyrus
sircyrus

DDO wasn't successful, largely because of major design flaws on Turbine's part. They shouldn't be forced to keep the D&D license on the shelf just because it may pull subscribers away from a dying MMO that barely makes them enough money to keep it going. By the time any NWN MMO would hit the market, DDO is going to be well on it's last leg standing. Besides, Eberron and Neverwinter are completely different settings. It's not as though they'd be the exact same games. I'd certainly hope they wouldn't be, if they have any hope at all for the NWN MMO succeeding.

ropumar
ropumar

Ridiculous. Atari is right to terminate this game. Unfortunately it has no place in current MMO market, it is not bad faith, is a trivial business decision.

jazilla
jazilla

the last MMo that atari was behind just went off-line(matrix online). neverwinter nights 2 from a purely technical standpoint was a bust and a half. it was a total system hog and visually it didnt really substantiate that at all. i don't see them being a viable player in the MMO market at all.

N0tYrBeezin
N0tYrBeezin

NWN MMO? I thought Warhammer had a bigger fanbase than NWN and see how well that GameWorkshop MMORPG is doing. Why bother launching a NWN MMO? It is just going to fail even more spectacularly.

zomglolcats
zomglolcats

While Turbine is probably in the right on this, personally I'd much rather a NWN MMO made by Cryptic than Turbine's D&D MMO, even if it is re-launching as free to play. I played it in the beginning when it was released, and it was just disappointing. Turbine should just can that game and stick with LOTRO.

Thirdrail1
Thirdrail1

I'd be shocked if Turbine wasn't right on all points. They'll win this lawsuit. Incompetence is what Atari is best at. I guess practice does make perfect.

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

Hmmmm - maybe I should go into law with a specialization in electronics/videogames - seems to be a growing field in the past few years........

Erebus
Erebus

Hmmm... an interesting accusation. Turbine had better have proof.

gamecoder99
gamecoder99

@ theunloved Right... Because Turbine has all the designers/developers handling the lawsuit, not lawyers... As for the lawsuit, if Turbine is telling the truth, I hope Atari gets what they deserve.

rktPYZQShWz
rktPYZQShWz

There will be hell to pay if they win and Atari goes down and my beloved Champions Online ceases to be supported D= Turbine can go suck one.

Khasym
Khasym

Actually, this one might have real merit to it. From what I'm seeing, it sounds like Atari sold the rights to Turbine with some kind of "if it doesn't do this much per year, we can take the rights back" clause. And now, they're trying to bring that about by under-pubbing DDO:SR's new model. That way, they don't have to BUY the rights back, and can make more money with a Neverwinter Nights MMO.

Cabal23
Cabal23

Suing over what? A game no one is playing any more. Sounds like they are pissed about having a suck game.

Wolf-5
Wolf-5

@ theunloved So well said :D

theunloved
theunloved

So many law suits now an days. The time wasted on that would be much better geared toward.....finishing the games.

Never3ndingLife
Never3ndingLife

haha wow catfight... lol @ aura enchanted."nintendo knife sony or microsoft over motion sensor techhnology".. its true

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

everyone knifing eachother for royalties these days i expect to see nintendo knife sony or microsoft over motion sensor technology

Neogenic
Neogenic

Heh, there's a lot of catfights between game developers these days.

CZHambrick
CZHambrick

I wasn't even aware people still played D&D Online, I'm actually impressed. It does seem Atari is doing this out of bad faith, especially launching a game of their own. I'd like to see the court rule in favor with Turbine, since after all, they're apparently doing something right.