Southpeak: "Some people used the press to put pressure on us"
Publisher claims "misinformation" was spread about contract disputes
Publisher Southpeak Interactive has claimed that the multiple lawsuits it has faced over the last two years are because some former partners of its 2009 acquisition Gamecock may have taken advantage of the latter's unpaid bills.
In an interview published today, chairman Terry Phillips told GamesIndustry.biz that "some people, attorneys or whoever, used the press to try to put pressure on us, to try to squeeze a better deal out of us, to try to paint a negative picture of us.
"That's definitely a challenge for us, because we spend a lot of time with our partners reassuring them that everything is fine. That's not how we want to spend our time we want to sell games."
Referring to earlier stories documenting the publisher's largely resolved legal wrangles with CDV, Paradox, Nobilis and Timegate, as well as its former CFO, Philips stated that "We're disappointed that some people have used the press for some... we'll call it misinformation, if not perhaps outright something else.
"You read a lot of it and you just think we've had a terrible year on the legal side, but we've not had one single substantive judgement against us whatsoever this year.
"It hasn't been our style to respond to all of these, or to use the press in that sort of vein. So we've tried to steer clear of all that, but I think what happens is some people tend to use it and it works well for them, so the next person tries the same thing."
The majority of the lawsuits stemmed from Gamecock's unpaid debts to former partners. "In most cases we were able to get things back on track... Probably in, I guess, 20 per cent of the cases, we either weren't able to reach an agreement or it was already too far gone, if you will. In those sorts of situations, we were sort of forced to protect our investment."
Former Gamecock CEO Mike Wilson told Joystiq in 2009 that Southpeak was well aware of all debts when it made the acquisition, and went on to allege that following the purchase, "we were offered a commission basically on any moneys we could talk our partners out of taking...
"But it became apparent very quickly that what they actually meant by that was that they were going to try to pay as little as possible ... meaning telling everyone basically to 'screw off, sue us' if they wouldn't accept half or less of what they were rightfully owed."
Southpeak, by contrast, now asserts that "More [payment disputes] came out of it than we ever expected. There was people we'd never heard of when we bought the company that came up later on, which made plain that we'd never been informed about some things."
Phillips maintained that "We've worked really hard to work directly with people, to resolve those issues, to help people who were disappointed. We think that it's behind us now."
Still somewhat hanging is its dispute with My Baby developer Nobilis, whose attempt to hand publishing rights to Majesco last year was blocked by a French court.
"It was completely turned over, it was a bit of a historic ruling I'm told by the lawyer, in France to be able to get a ruling like that on a nice speedy trial.
"All of our rights under that agreement have been put back in place, and because of that contract not being terminated all rights on the future games fall back into our agreement and we'll do what we need to do to protect those."
Following a rocky 2010, Southpeak is predicting a better 2011, looking to further My Baby titles, Two Worlds II and an unannounced game made in partnership with NVIDIA as big revenue drivers.
For the full interview with Southpeak's Terry Philips and CEO Melanie Mroz, in which they also share their feelings on Nintendo's platforms, digital and mobile distribution and discuss the Nobilis case in more detail, please click here.