Star Citizen Dev Being Sued By Crytek Over Breach Of Contract And Copyright Infringement

Cloud Imperium says the lawsuit is "meritless."


German game developer and publisher Crytek is suing the developer of the ambitious PC space game Star Citizen over breach of contract and copyright infringement claims. Specifically, Crytek is suing Cloud Imperium Games on the claim that the the Star Citizen studio did not live up to the promises it made for using Crytek's CryEngine.

According to the complaint filed December 12 (via PC Gamer), Crytek agreed to a below-market rate for Cloud Imperium to use CryEngine with the agreement being that Cloud Imperium would prominently display the CryEngine logo in the game. The lawsuit says Crytek knew that displaying the CryEngine's logo was a "critical component" of the agreement between the two companies. The lawsuit goes on to say that Cloud Imperium founder Chris Roberts "publicly sought to minimize Crytek's contribution to Star Citizen."

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All of this reportedly happened before Cloud Imperium Games switched game engines, from CryEngine to Amazon's Lumberyard. Also in the lawsuit is a claim by Crytek that its terms with Cloud Imperium specified that the Star Citizen studio would be required to send to Crytek a list of bug fixes and optimizations that it made to the CryEngine source code. In November 2015, Crytek said it reached out to Cloud Imperium for a "long overdue" list of these things, but Cloud Imperium did not make a good faith effort to provide it.

Also at issue in the lawsuit is Cloud Imperium's use of the CryEngine for Squadron 42, the single-player part of Star Citizen. Crytek says its agreement with Cloud Imperium for the CryEngine only covered Star Citizen, not Squadron 42, which it reportedly considers a separate game. Regarding the copyright infringement claims, Crytek claims that Cloud Imperium's infringement was "willful, reckless, and/or in blatant disregard for Crytek's rights as a copyright holder."

In the lawsuit, Crytek is looking to reclaim direct damages of around $75,000, along with "indirect damages, consequential damages (including lost profits), special damages, costs, fees, and expenses incurred by reason of Defendants' breach of contract and copyright infringement." Crytek also wants a "permanent injunction" against Cloud Imperium that would prevent the company from using any of Crytek's copyrighted work. Further still, Crytek is looking to claim an amount of Cloud Imperium's profits at trial based on its reported breach of contract and copyright infringement. Additionally, Crytek is seeking punitive damages in the amount to be determined during a trial.

In a statement to PC Gamer, Cloud Imperium said it is aware of the lawsuit, which it called "meritless." The studio said it is prepared to fight "vigorously" in court over this matter.

Another element of this lawsuit is that Crytek, facing financial difficulties in 2015, reached a CryEngine 3 licensing deal with Amazon worth as much as $70 million. This move reportedly helped Crytek out of its financial challenges.

Star Citizen is the most successful crowdfunded project in history, raising $173.5 million by Cloud Imperium's latest count. Development on Star Citizen is ongoing, though a release date for the project has yet to be announced.

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