Double Fine countersues Activision - Report

Brutal Legend developer says publisher scuttled Jack Black-starring game after a failed attempt to turn it into a Guitar Hero sequel, studio's future depends on successful launch.

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At the height of last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, reports surfaced that Activision was suing Double Fine Productions to stop the release of the studio's upcoming game, Brutal Legend. The battle is ongoing, but Double Fine is not going down without a fight.

Barring a court order, Brutal Legend is set for an October 13 release.
Barring a court order, Brutal Legend is set for an October 13 release.

According to the Associated Press, Double Fine Productions last week countersued Activision. The countersuit alleges that Activision filed its claim specifically to hurt the San Francisco-based developer, which also said the company's continued survival depends on Brutal Legend. Double Fine is also accusing Activision of unlawful business practices and trying to prevent the game's release just to thin out potential competition to the publisher's own Guitar Hero franchise.

While they may fight for a limited amount of shelf space and consumer dollars, the music-themed action game Brutal Legend and the rhythm game Guitar Hero don't compete in the same genre. However, Double Fine's suit says that Activision canceled the studio's game after an aborted attempt to convert it into a Guitar Hero sequel.

Activision first gained the publishing rights to Brutal Legend in July 2008, when it won approval for its merger with then-publisher Vivendi Games. However, Activision soon thereafter revealed the list of Vivendi titles it would be pursuing, and Brutal Legend didn't make the cut. Enter Electronic Arts, which later that year added Double Fine to its EA Partners program and set the game on course for an October debut. While Activision's suit claimed it never relinquished the publishing rights to the game, Double Fine is hoping to get a judge's ruling that the publisher terminated its agreement with the studio.

When asked if the legal dispute had affected the game's launch plans, an EA representative simply told GameSpot, "Rocktober 13th, 2009 in North America, Rocktober 16th everywhere else."

Activision has filed a motion to prevent Brutal Legend's release. According to the AP, a hearing on that motion is scheduled for July 30.

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