Kotick defends Brutal Legend fallout

Activision Blizzard CEO says Tim Schafer's company simply owed publisher money, prompting lawsuit over metal-infused action RTS.

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Double Fine's Brutal Legend was among the handful of games that Activision decided not to publish following its merger with Vivendi in 2008. However, the game received a new set of legs when EA Partners picked it up, at least until Activision sued Double Fine, claiming it still had rights to the project. By 2009, the suit was settled and the game saw release, but that didn't stop Double Fine head Tim Schafer from calling Activision boss Bobby Kotick "a dick."

Eddie Riggs' debut wasn't without drama.
Eddie Riggs' debut wasn't without drama.

For his part, Activision's oft-maligned executive has remained largely silent on the issue, save for defending the publisher's position on why Brutal Legend was dropped. In a recent interview with Joystiq, Kotick further defended Activision's actions, saying that the lawsuit came about by the publisher simply attempting to recuperate the money it fronted to Double Fine to create the game.

"I don't know him. I never met him," Kotick said of Schafer. "I had no involvement in Vivendi's decision to go into business with him. I had very limited knowledge of what we were even doing with him. The guy went off and signed a deal with Electronic Arts for millions of dollars and owed Vivendi money."

"Vivendi had advanced him like $15 or $20 million dollars," he said. "He missed all the milestones, missed all the deadlines, as Tim has a reputation of doing. I don't know if it was a decision not to publish it. I don't even really know where we were in the negotiation and discussions about what was going to happen to the product. Unbeknownst to everybody, they didn't have the rights to sell."

"So all we'd said is, 'Look: If you go and do a deal with somebody else, pay back the money that was advanced to you.' That was all we were looking for. We ultimately got a fraction of the money that had been advanced to him, and as far as I know, that was the end of it. But I don't even know if there was a lawsuit from my recollection," he continued.

Kotick went on to note that he bears no personal grudge against Schafer, saying only that Activision did not feel Brutal Legend would be a commercial success.

"So I think that maybe nobody was able to clearly articulate that this is not a judgment about Tim Schafer," he said. "There's no personal animosity between Bobby Kotick and…I don't know the guy. Never met him. I could honestly tell you, sitting here, I never saw Brutal Legend and so the judgment of the people who I trust and respect about the quality of the game, and whether or not audiences would be excited and enthusiastic about this game, was 'No.'"

Though Brutal Legend did go on to become a critical success, its commercial fortunes were dubious. In announcing Double Fine's transition to small game development in July, Schafer confirmed that work on a sequel had been canceled.

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