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Bethesda, Interplay Dispute Over Fallout MMOG

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 20 comments
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Looks as though there may be troubled waters ahead, as Interplay's annual performance report doesn't reveal a company in financial peril, but rather a revelation that all is not well between the company and Bethesda Softworks. Is there a major fallout brewing on the horizon?

Although Interplay originally owned the rights to the Fallout franchise, dating back to the release of the first title back in 1997, Bethesda purchased the franchise rights in 2007 (contract) for $5.75 million. The acquisition made Bethesda the sole owner of the IP, and Interplay a licensee so that the company could peruse its original plan to develop a MMOG based on the Fallout mythology.

However, clauses in the purchase agreement stated that Interplay must begin development of the MMOG within twenty-four months of the April 4, 2007 agreement date. Interplay must also secure $30 million within that timeframe, or forfeit its rights to license Fallout. Additionally, Interplay must actually launch the MMOG within four years of the initial development, and also pay Bethesda an additional 12 percent of subscription fees and sales for use of the Fallout IP. Interplay supposedly complied by commencing the development of the MMOG in April 2008, and also brought on Masthead Studios early this month to help in the development process; Masthead is providing the proprietary tools and MMOG technology originally developed for its "Earthrise" project.

But according to Interplay's filings, Bethesda still has an issue with the company. "Interplay recently received notice that Bethesda Softworks, LLC ("Bethesda") intends to terminate the trademark license agreement between Bethesda and Interplay which was entered into April 4, 2007 for the development of FALLOUT MMOG," the annual performance report reads. "Despite the fact that no formal action is currently pending, Bethesda claims that Interplay is in breach of the trademark license agreement for failure to commence fill scale development of same by April 4, 2009 and to secure certain funding for the MMOG. Interplay adamantly disputes these claims. Although the potential damages are currently unknown, if Bethesda ultimately prevails and cancels the trademark license agreement, Interplay would lose its license back of the "Fallout" MMOG and any damages resulting therefrom are unknown at this time."

Back in September 2008, Interplay announced that game designer Chris Taylor wandered back to the nest, having served as part of the original Fallout game development team back in 1994. Taylor now serves as Lead System Designer for "Project V13," Interplay's working title for the MMOG in development (which is probably the Fallout title). The company said that he also joins other original Fallout team members at Interplay's internal game studio. Are all these original Fallout designers just a coincidence? Probably not.

It's probably safe to assume that Project V13 is actually the Fallout MMOG, and if that is certainly the case, it will be interesting to find out why Bethesda believes Interplay is in breech of contract. Perhaps Interplay hasn't secured the funds needed to fulfill its portion of the agreement; perhaps the MMOG project has nothing to do with Fallout whatsoever. Without answers, curious minds will have to wait for more information form either party.

As of this writing, Bethesda has not replied to our query on the matter.

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  • 7 Hide
    eklipz330 , April 17, 2009 10:18 PM
    you know you F****ed up when you lose rights to a game you created
  • 2 Hide
    TheFace , April 17, 2009 10:52 PM
    The terms of the agreement weren't met, they never secured the funding for this game which had all the potential in the world. Good going.
  • 0 Hide
    Azgoroth , April 17, 2009 10:56 PM
    Better not to distract Masthead from Earthrise anyway.
  • Display all 20 comments.
  • -6 Hide
    michaelahess , April 18, 2009 12:13 AM
    Fallout MMORPG would suck anyway, as they all do......
  • 0 Hide
    maigo , April 18, 2009 4:38 AM
    Boo! Hiss!
    Bethesda doesn't want to get payed for nothing?
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 18, 2009 9:53 AM
    I think it'd be much better if bethesda created that game instead of interplay... I know their experience with multiplayer games is like zero, but they're doing such a great job on the games thay've made, that I can't imagine them doing poorly on that either. I've got both morrowind and obilivon at home, and playing fallout 3 lately showed me, that they can actually make a different themed game well too. I'm not fan of the finite ending on fallout, but then I understand it had to be if they didn't want to run into the balancing issues they introduced with oblivion.

    Anyway, perhaps the message from bethesda is merely to make sure interplay goes on and secures the funding required, and not actually a statement that means they're going to terminate immidiately.
  • -9 Hide
    bpogdowz , April 18, 2009 9:56 AM
    Crappy engine from crappy company
  • 2 Hide
    mtyermom , April 18, 2009 10:26 PM
    Whatever happens regarding the contract, I just hope the development of the game continues and it is eventually released. It would be a shame for it to die.
  • 6 Hide
    noahjwhite , April 19, 2009 5:24 AM
    If done right a fallout MMO game could be awesome. BUT... most of them suck. Including WoW. So many wasted hours...uggg...
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 19, 2009 7:08 PM
    demonhorde665quite frankly hope The Fall out series NEVER sees a crappy MMO title. (yeah a few WoW fans may want to shoot me) MMOPRG's SUCK ! period 1. they get countless "trendy gamers" to waste countless hours spawn farming pretty much 2. they often at times bring down the IP they are trying to booste by offering a endless "click here to hack on that , go there to get this"kind of game play. 3. adn soemtiems they dlay or possibly even kill the cahnce of the series ever returning to it's original form (where is a Warcraft 4 RTS ???) personally i'd hate to see the fall out series go from a very deep role playing game with rich stories and with side quest that are as various as a roulette game. get turned it a game series of NO rich stories , repetetive questing that involves countless hours of killing this or fetching that. Esseintally i feel if the fall out series got made to a MMOPRG , the same thing would happen to it that happened to Warcraft, that being it would bassically kill the "original" feeling of the game's universe. WoW doesn't feel like the war craft rts i remeber , and a fall out MMORPG would most likely not feel like the rich and deep rpg that the original games were. as i said before i hope neither of the companies EVER get this MMOPRG of the ground. I jsut don'twant to see the FO series get destroyed and bassically supplanted by a bunch of trendy gamers that think they "know" alla bout how teh game should feel.


    I'm impressed that you somehow almost learned to spell, albeit fallout still being a single word. Changed to chrome, or went to school to learn it?
    Anyway, as is always the case with your posts, your arguments are incorrect. Based solely on your opinion, and even then flaky at best.
    Do you know what the RPG part of MMORPG means? (though you typed prg, but hey, its you!) It means Role Playing Game. That's a type of game you clearly don't like, but don't complain about those who provide it just because you don't like it. You're not forced to 'waste' your time on it after all. Just because I strongly dislike VW/VAG doesn't mean I'll claim they don't have the right to exist.

    ps. Rereading your post for the purpose of replying to it, I must conclude that in the last half of it you completely forgot how to spell once again! I just wish you'd learn that some day. Perhaps that'd increase the probability, or risk in my opinion, of someone actually siding with your assessment.
  • -7 Hide
    eagles453809 , April 19, 2009 8:14 PM
    wow you are a dick dude, this is about opinion and you are being a dick...ihope you die in a bad computer explosion mishap...

  • 0 Hide
    necro1783 , April 20, 2009 11:14 AM
    demonhorde665quite frankly hope The Fall out series NEVER sees a crappy MMO title. (yeah a few WoW fans may want to shoot me) MMOPRG's SUCK ! period 1. they get countless "trendy gamers" to waste countless hours spawn farming pretty much 2. they often at times bring down the IP they are trying to booste by offering a endless "click here to hack on that , go there to get this"kind of game play. 3. adn soemtiems they dlay or possibly even kill the cahnce of the series ever returning to it's original form (where is a Warcraft 4 RTS ???) personally i'd hate to see the fall out series go from a very deep role playing game with rich stories and with side quest that are as various as a roulette game. get turned it a game series of NO rich stories , repetetive questing that involves countless hours of killing this or fetching that. Esseintally i feel if the fall out series got made to a MMOPRG , the same thing would happen to it that happened to Warcraft, that being it would bassically kill the "original" feeling of the game's universe. WoW doesn't feel like the war craft rts i remeber , and a fall out MMORPG would most likely not feel like the rich and deep rpg that the original games were. as i said before i hope neither of the companies EVER get this MMOPRG of the ground. I jsut don'twant to see the FO series get destroyed and bassically supplanted by a bunch of trendy gamers that think they "know" alla bout how teh game should feel.


    Also it seems that the only part of WoW that you seem to dislike is the repetitive questing, i.e go kill X amount of those, gather X amount of that, ect. If neiroatopelcc is wrong and it's not just that you don't like RPGs then maybe you'd be shocked to know that there are MMORPGs out there that don't use that type of questing to fill in a broken story line. I'm talking about Guild Wars, and I truly hope that if this Fallout MMOG comes out that they take stride in the ways of Guild Wars and do away with the repetitive questing.
  • 0 Hide
    solymnar , April 20, 2009 2:33 PM
    That's fairly true necro. GW's focus on the MMORPG side of things is primarily in progressing the story line of which you are the central focus. In many senses its like a traditional RPG that allows open ended co-op mode.

    That might be a very good way to approach things for the fallout series. Considering that a "wasteland" crawling with people running around all over the place would be a bit mood jarring. Though I'd like to think a balance could be struck in some cases (aka allow another group or one or two people to be present in the same area allowing a chance to run across other people besides just in designated gathering areas).


    Though to comment on the OT, my only hopes are that whatever the outcome it doesn't butcher or otherwise jack up whatever plans devs have for fallout resulting in a half finished or bastardized product. When companies war over game IP the end result seems to be that we never see anything good come out of it as consumers.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 20, 2009 2:40 PM
    solymnarConsidering that a "wasteland" crawling with people running around all over the place would be a bit mood jarring.


    Well in fallout 3 you basicly only run around in washington, so I think the crowding could be fixed by simply expanding the working area to a state with counties - a bit like wow is cut into 4 islands with zones. That way they could meet the deadline even with a lot of content creation needed - cause they didn't have to release all of the land mass at once. Anyway, the fallout story line would have to be extensively expanded - but so was warcrafts, so I think it's possible. But it might be a bit more tricky than inventing a completely new mmo game - which is what most mmorpg's are.
  • 0 Hide
    solymnar , April 20, 2009 5:34 PM
    That's the blessing and curse of working with pre-established lore Neiro.

    On the bright side you already have a lot of flavor and history established.

    On the not so bright side it limits your flexibility to a degree because you don't want to create scenarios that basically invalidate already established history and protocol.

    Expanding the working area to a very large scale has failed in practice. Vanguard saga of heroes has a simply massive landscape. However all that does in effect is spread out the points of interest. So you still run into tons of people at a popular point of interest regardless of land mass.

    This is in stark contrast to having a more dense population of POIs but limiting the number of players present in your instance to your group when you leave a gathering area.

    I feel a good balance would be an approach like EQ2 does but on a more limiting scale, where x number of players will be in a given adventure zone until it reaches cap and another instance of it is spawned. That way you still may run across other players. But they won't be crowding a POI that based on theme and flavor should be somewhat desolate of other people.

    In theory anyway. ;) 

    I whole heartedly agree with your idea of the devs not trying to bite off more than they can chew for launch. Better off having a smaller initial content release with everything more or less working and polished. Then going for broke on content and having gameplay and quests glitchy and unstable.
  • 0 Hide
    necro1783 , April 20, 2009 5:42 PM
    With Fallout 3 having added Philly to the game your prespective on how it should play out solymnar with Neiros idea should work out just fine.....in theroy of course
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 20, 2009 6:59 PM
    In the end it'll be up to interplay or bethesda to figure out, and not us though. And I'm sure someone employed by one of them has been thinking about the game within the last 12 months - and not just a couple hours like we :) 
  • 0 Hide
    necro1783 , April 20, 2009 7:09 PM
    very true neiro
  • 0 Hide
    justaminion , June 26, 2011 5:58 PM
    Interplay breeched their contract. Their just jealous because Bethesda bought their idea and made it very successful. Grow up, Interplay.
  • 0 Hide
    justaminion , June 26, 2011 6:04 PM
    Interplay breeched their contract when they decided to team up with Masthead. Interplay was supposed to allocate the $30 Mill on their own without the help of partners.