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Developer sues Fox over Planet of the Apes game

Snail Digital claims movie studio neglected to provide assets and info in a timely fashion

Snail Games is taking Fox Entertainment to court over a licensed game deal gone sour. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chinese-based Suzhou Snail Digital Technology has filed suit in California over a deal it had to make games based on Fox's War for the Planet of the Apes, which arrived in theaters in July.

According to the developer, it agreed to pay Fox a $2.5 million advance plus royalties for rights to two games based on the film, one an action RPG and the other an augmented reality title. Plans for the latter game were scuttled when the Chinese government raised concerns with AR after the success of Pokemon Go, but the former project fell through for other reasons.

According to the suit, Fox neglected to provide assets and information about its movie to the developer in a timely fashion, costing Snail "a significant market opportunity."

"Were the Games to be released months, or even weeks after the film, the zeitgeist 'buzz' surrounding the Motion Picture would have died down and the Games may struggle to be relevant, let alone marketable," the suit reads. "That is why, on information and belief, film-based video games generally are released prior to or concurrently with the films upon which they are based. This is not only the industry standard, it is common sense."

The suit acknowledged that Fox had approval rights and had issues with an alpha version of the game that Snail submitted, but took issue with the feedback. According to the suit, Fox would identify problems, but offered little guidance on how to change the game to gain the film studio's approval.

Latest comments (1)

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 18 days ago
Thatís hardly unusual.

The MPAA who rates movies follows similar patterns eith anyone who isnít their direct sponsor according to multiple accounts, including the documentary ďThis Film is Not Yet RatedĒ. Matt at one of South Park Provides particularly damning testimony how independent films are told that they canít dictate creativity, while studio films receive a detailed breakdown of what they found offensive.

I can speculate that since Fox hasnít had a games division in years, and since itís pretty rare for Fox properties to become games, that itís quite possible that their licensing rep simply felt they didnít know enough about games to offer the advice, and/or their objections had a lot more to do with tone and content and how well they felt it represented the franchise. The one example cited in the HR story points to the latter, that the character designs departed too much from thr look and feel.

Obviously without seeing the game or the evaluation, this will remain speculative, but in my experience these are likely scenarios.
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