Bethesda and Interplay have finally settled their differences over the Fallout series. More specifically, Interplay has lost the rights to complete their MMO, Fallout Online, and has set a date where they will relinquish all rights to the series’ original releases.
The lawsuit started when Interplay declared they had commenced full scale development of Fallout Online, a project that was announced before Bethesda bought the rights to the series. The settlement included Bethesda’s parent company, ZeniMax, agreeing to pay $2 million to Interplay. In turn, they will relinquish the rights to Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics, as well as any related merchandising. All of this is expected to be settled by December 2013.
There has been no announcement of a Bethesda MMO, but that hasn’t stopped the Internet from working itself into its usual tizzy. Though, the question that seems to be coming up the most is just how you would fit an MMO into the Fallout cannon. Some of the more hardcore fans have used an unofficial MMO (Fallout: 2238) to help prove that it’s not impossible. However, as an independent game, it has no obligation to stay true to cannon.
Only time will tell what Bethesda plans on doing after this announcement, but I would wager a guess that it may be a while before we hear of an official Fallout MMO. The better question is if Interplay will finish their wasteland MMO without the Fallout name.
Full details of the settlement can be found below:
FALLOUT® MMO RIGHTS RESTORED TO BETHESDA SOFTWORKS® IN INTERPLAY LITIGATION
All Fallout® Intellectual Property Rights Belong Exclusively to Bethesda
January 9, 2012 (Rockville, MD) –ZeniMax® Media Inc. today announced that a settlement had been reached in the lawsuit filed by its subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks®, against Interplay Entertainment Corporation in 2009, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Interplay Entertainment Corp., seeking cancellation of the license granted to Interplay to develop a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) based on the Fallout brand. Bethesda maintained in its complaint that Interplay had failed to meet the conditions for the license and the license was therefore of no continuing validity.
Under the terms of the settlement, the license granted to Interplay to develop the Fallout MMO is null and void, and all rights granted to Interplay to develop a Fallout MMO revert back to Bethesda, effective immediately. Interplay has no ongoing right to use the Fallout brand or any Fallout intellectual property for any game development. ZeniMax will pay Interplay $2 million as consideration in the settlement, each party will bear its own costs of the litigation, and Bethesda will continue to own all Fallout intellectual property rights. Interplay will be permitted to continue to sell the original Fallout ®Tactics, Fallout® and Fallout® 2 PC games through December 2013, after which time all rights to market those games revert to and become the sole property of Bethesda. Under the original agreement pursuant to which Bethesda had acquired the Fallout property, Interplay was granted certain merchandising rights to sell those original Fallout games, but those merchandising rights will now expire on December 31, 2013.
The lawsuit against Interplay arose after Bethesda Softworks acquired all Fallout intellectual property rights from Interplay in April 2007, and conditionally licensed back to Interplay certain trademark rights to make a Fallout MMO, provided Interplay secured $30 million in financing for the MMO and commenced full scale development of the game by April 2009. Bethesda alleged in its complaint that Interplay failed to meet either condition of the license back agreement but refused to relinquish its license and insisted it would develop a Fallout MMO. Bethesda filed suit to declare the license void.
In a separate but related matter, Bethesda commenced a second action against a purported developer of the Fallout MMO, Masthead Studios, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Masthead Studios Ltd. In the course of the original lawsuit against Interplay, Interplay had claimed that it had engaged Masthead Studios to develop the Fallout MMO under its license, and contended that Masthead was engaged in full scale development of that game. Bethesda filed its separate lawsuit against Masthead to assert copyright infringement and other violations of Bethesda’s intellectual property rights. Under the MMO license granted to Interplay, Interplay was not permitted to sublicense any rights granted without the prior approval of Bethesda, approval which had never been requested or granted. In responding to Bethesda’s lawsuit, Masthead denied that it had been using any of Bethesda’s intellectual property in developing an MMO. Masthead and Bethesda settled that second lawsuit on December 29, 2011. In the settlement, Masthead acknowledges it has no legal right to use any Fallout intellectual property, and agrees it will not use any such intellectual property of Bethesda in the future. No payments were made by either party as part of this settlement. The two settlements resolve all pending litigation over the Fallout intellectual property owned by Bethesda.
Robert Altman, Chairman and CEO of ZeniMax, expressed satisfaction on behalf of the Company with the resolution of the two lawsuits saying, “While we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims to the Fallout IP. Fallout is an important property of ZeniMax and we are now able to develop future Fallout titles for our fans without third party involvement or the overhang of others’ legal claims.”
Following the purchase of the property, Bethesda Game Studios, the 2011 ‘Studio of the Year’ and the development team behind the 2011 ‘Game of the Year’, The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim™, developed Fallout® 3. ZeniMax Media’s publishing subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks, published Fallout® 3, a highly acclaimed sequel which won ‘Game of the Year’ honors in 2008, for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows. Bethesda also published the popular title, Fallout: New Vegas®, in 2010 for the same platforms. Fallout: New Vegas® Ultimate Edition, which will include the original game and the award-winning downloadable content in one special package, is planned for release by Bethesda in early 2012.
About ZeniMax Media Inc.
ZeniMax Media is a privately owned media organization headquartered outside Washington DC with international offices in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Eindhoven, and Tokyo. Through its subsidiaries, ZeniMax Media creates and publishes original interactive entertainment content for consoles, the PC, and handheld/wireless devices. ZeniMax Media divisions include Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, Arkane Studios, Tango Gameworks, MachineGames Sweden, ZeniMax Europe Ltd., ZeniMax Asia K.K. and ZeniMax Online Studios. For more information on ZeniMax Media, visit www.zenimax.com.
About Bethesda Softworks
Bethesda Softworks, part of the ZeniMax Media Inc. family of companies, is a worldwide publisher of premier interactive entertainment software. Titles featured under the Bethesda label include such blockbuster franchises as DOOM®, QUAKE®, The Elder Scrolls®, Fallout®, Wolfenstein® and RAGE®. For more information on Bethesda Softworks’ products, visit www.bethsoft.com.
About Bethesda Game Studios
Bethesda Game Studios is the award-winning development studio known around the world for its groundbreaking work on The Elder Scrolls series. Creators of the 2006 Game of the Year, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®, and 2008 Game of the Year, Fallout® 3, Bethesda Game Studios has earned its reputation as one of the industry’s most respected and accomplished game development studios. Bethesda Game Studios’ latest game, The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim™, released on 11.11.11. Skyrim earned numerous nominations and awards at this year’s E3, including being named ‘Best Console Game’ and ‘Best RPG’ by the official Game Critics Awards and has been awarded more than 200 perfect review scores. For more information on Bethesda Game Studios, visit http://bgs.bethsoft.com.