Bethesda: "We own the rights to the Fallout MMO"

Trademark dispute continues as Interplay claims it can seize back rights to Fallout 6 and beyond

The ongoing dispute between Bethesda and Interplay over rights to the Fallout franchise has thrown up more complications.

Bethesda's VP of PR Pete Hines has claimed to VG247 that "We own the rights to the MMO. We own the rights to everything Fallout. The licence is ours. Fallout belongs to us."

This came in response to comments made by Interplay co-founder Eric Caen last year, claiming that Bethesda had declined to purchase MMO rights when acquiring the rest of the IP in 2007.

Following Hines' claims, Caen stated to Eurogamer that it could potentially block Bethesda's ongoing use of the IP were it prevented from releasing the MMO.

"We sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda in exchange for a certain amount of cash and the right to do the Fallout MMO," he said.

"If they refuse to let us do the game, then the sale of the IP is terminated, and they will be allowed to do only one more Fallout, 5.

"The original licensing deal was for three games and their DLC. So they already did Fallout 3, then Fallout: New Vegas, and they can only do one more Fallout, 5, if the sale of the IP is cancelled by the court."

Interplay's retention of rights to a Fallout MMO version when selling the general IP to Bethesda was made on the understanding that it must commence development and secure adequate funding by April 2009.

Following news that Interplay was working on the MMO, codenamed 'Project V13', with Masthead Studios, Bethesda sued the troubled firm for trademark infringement and breach of agreement in September 2009.

Despite his claims to own all Fallout rights, Hines did admit that "It's a legal matter. A specific MMO or project or any of that stuff, the lawyers are all going to sort it out."

Interplay's MMO is scheduled for a 2012 release.

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Latest comments (25)

Stephen Northcott Senior Consulting Engineer 7 years ago
As a Fallout fan I would like to knock both companies heads together.
What seems most likely right now is that everything Fallout stalls while lawyers get rich.
Sort it out guys. Please.
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
Stephen +1

Being a major fan of the Fallout world this is so annoying to read. If Interplay were experiencing financial issues i.e. securing funding then its poor play by Bethesda to kick them while down but the bigger picture should be releasing quality products for the fans. So please, pretty please with sugar on top fix this!
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Michael Armer Studying Games Development National Diploma Level 3, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
I don't care who makes the games as long as they are good games
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Show all comments (25)
Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
I don't think anyone is clear on who outright owns the franchise, caveats and all. This is turning out to be very messy (and embarrassingly public), and I think both companies would be better to settle it in a quiet and hasty manner.
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Jordan Woodward Level Designer, Codemasters Birmingham7 years ago
I'm a massive fan of Fallout and I hope they sort all of this out soon. Desperately waiting on a Fallout MMO too so this is sad news.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 7 years ago
I can't really understand how this situation could have arisen... Either the contract states one thing or it doesn't. Or, i suppose a further possibility is that they (un?)intentionally left these things deliberately vague in the contracts that were signed...

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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 7 years ago
Kids play nicely please!
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Bruce Nesbit Programmer 7 years ago
Why dont they just release something new !! If its that important put 'from the makers of fallout' on the box.

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Jas Purewal Partner, Purewal & Partners7 years ago
@James - you'd hope so, but it seems that actually the bargain struck between Interplay and Bethesda is unclear in many respects. We know that Interplay sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda provided it retained certain rights (including the right to make a Fallout MMO during a specific timeframe), but it's now emerged that actually precisely who received what is unclear - either because the contract wasn't well drafted enough, or because the negotiators themselves didn't know for definite what they wanted. Hence the messy lawsuit.
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grynn eSports journalist 7 years ago
****ing Bethesda.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 7 years ago
@Jas - it's surprising given that that legal departments of these game companies and their publishers are always very precise when stating liability, licence and uses etc. I guess we'll just have to ogle from the sidelines as we'll probably never be privvy to the inner workings of these sorts of cases.

@ Bruce: Wasteland! From the named makers of Fallout (but not the actual original people) :D

I always found/find those "from the makers/producers" to be irrelevant in the game industry - even for sequels from the same studio where they might have had a large number of redundancies at the end of a project (for example). I prefer signature names like Sid Meier; though they don't even really indicate that the particular person worked on the project any more...
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Pete Fairhurst Interaction Designer 7 years ago
...couldn't they work together on it? That'd be pant-wettingly good.
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The Love of Hate runs deep. Thus I doubt it. Too many egos have landed blows to reconcile the similar differences :)
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Michael Armer Studying Games Development National Diploma Level 3, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
would be interesting to see if (proving they are allowed to make it) the mmo is actually good, because the best thing about fallout is the story.
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Trevor Johnson Environment Designer, Compulsion7 years ago
I remember reading a press release, some time ago, when Bethesda first bought the Fallout IP. Supposedly the contract DID state that Interplay held the rights to a Fallout MMO, under the stipulation that they raised a certain amount of money by a certain date for the development of it. I think thats were all the "grey area" came from. To me it does seem a little bit of an underhanded move by Bethesda/Vivendi. Even if Bethesda did get the rights to do it, that would mean we wouldn't be seeing it for a while, because of ES:Skyrim.

come on guys lawyers NEED their ivory backscratchers!!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Trevor Johnson on 21st January 2011 3:30pm

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Kirill Yarovoy Game designer / Narrative designer / Writer 7 years ago
Fallout 5? I think he did mistake, Fallout NV is stand alone addon to Fallout 3, not a full-scale sequel, not Fallout 4, its like Vice City and San Andreas to GTA 3. So next game will surely be called Fallout 4, not 5!

Despite this mistake, im on interplay side, because i remember all that news in 2007 year, and they are all clearly stated "Bethesda purchased rights for Fallout, but dont worry guys, deal preserved rights for Online Fallouts to Interplay, as well as rights for 1st 3 fallout games". And back then Bethesda said nothing like "All your right are belong to us", so its clear now that they lie and trying to assault entire Fallout franchise to get more profit. I really hope they could stop that annoying attempts so i can see more Fallout games from bethesda, because if they will continue to lie and push interplay to court, there is a big chance they can loose legal battle, like that EDGE guy, who recently sued EA for Mirrors Edge... who ended loosing not only this legal battle but also all his rights to EDGE Trademarks, and Beth can repeat his mistake.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Kirill Yarovoy on 21st January 2011 5:01pm

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And this is surely another way good games die. I know the buzz around the Fallout MMO was pretty intense, and there would definitely be quite a following when or if that thing gets released.

Perhaps a work around on this matter would be a royalty percentage added to the deal, this way Bethesda gets 10% of all income from the sale of the box, and Interplay gets to keep its MMO.
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Maya Litani Producer, ngmoco:)7 years ago
It would be a shame for Bethesda to lose the license they so thoughtfully revived. From everything I've heard about Interplay, I can't see them pulling off a decent MMO when better studios with more resources have failed.
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Adam Campbell Studying Games Technology, City University London7 years ago
I don't see how you can sell an IP and then start making games based on it.
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Simon Arnet7 years ago
I'm pretty sure that Bethesda Bought all the rights to Fall Out and licensed back part of it, this Interplay was dead and gone in bankruptcy and selling off IP's Bethesda acquired the Fall Out license and brought it back from the dead. They gave permission to Interplay to make a Fall Out MMO in name only, as in they couldn't use any IP or creativity that Bethesda already gave to the franchise. It's actually Bethesda protecting the IP. Now Interplay is claiming that Bethesda has to give them back the license if they don't let them make the Fall Out MMO? Let's be reasonable, Interplay is spewing nonsense. When you sell an IP you sell it in whole, not in bits and pieces. Fall Out MMO is attached to the license just as much as New Vegas is, if they didn't meet the requirements of the deal Interplay is in the wrong. Honestly, how much money could they have raised in order to have the millions of dollars to create the MMO it's self.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Simon Arnet on 21st January 2011 9:53pm

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Ken Edwards Gaming Editor, Blogcritics 7 years ago
Honestly I do not know why Bethesda would want to make an MMO. Hasn't anyone learned from APB? Unless you make World of Warcraft - and last I checked that was only one company - then creating an MMO is just asking for problems. These usually turn into financial problems for the creator. Not good.

Get this Bethesda: We don't care/want a Fallout MMO. Bungie: We don't want a Halo MMO. Sony: We don't want a DC Comics MMO. Should I go on?
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Alan Jack Studying MProf Games Development, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
I don't really think a traditional MMO model would fit Fallout all that well. I wonder how an MMO is legally defined? If Fallout 5 featured co-op play in a model similar to Fable 3, that wouldn't make it an MMO. But if playing co-op meant both characters existed in each others' worlds simultaneously, that's getting a bit closer to it. Where would the line be drawn?
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James Finlan Studying Information Systems, University of Manchester7 years ago
@Ken Edwards : The thing is, the MMO space is crying out for a new AAA MMO that actually advances the genre instead of copying WoW in all but name and theme. When that happens we will have our next smash hit MMO but far too many developers are risk adverse and prefer to go town paths already well trodden. That is why new MMO's keep falling, MMO gamers have seen it all before in these games and are desperate for something that advances the genre or at least puts a new spin on what we currently have but does it in a highly polished manner.

One thing is for sure, the MMO space is a goldmine currently really only being properly exploited by Blizzard, anyone who is brave enough to try something new and can get proper funding to develop those ideas into an innovative MMO will really hit paydirt bigtime.
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Tomas Matousek Localisation Coordinator, Activision Blizzard Ireland7 years ago
Interplay buried the franchise the moment they sold it to Bethesda, anyone who played the first 2 sequels can see that; the "new" Fallout series sure looks fancier, but all that made the original Fallout tick - story, atmosphere, bucketfuls of black humor - is gone forever...
But maybe it's just my nostalgy...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tomas Matousek on 25th January 2011 12:47pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
I dunno, there were a few bucketfuls of black humor in New Vegas (although it was quite twisted - I like twisted, though)...

Call me crazy, but it almost sounds as if Interplay expected Bethsoft's Fallout games to fail (or at least NOT sell as well as they have). This way, they could roll in as saviors with a REAL Fallout game the hardcore fans would fall over themselves to get. Of course, by REAL, some would say it would have to be isometric and have the exact same elements unchanged from the earlier games in the series (har har). Hell, if that's the case, maybe Interplay can make a mint by sticking the first two games and Tactics on a iOS device and see what happens (once the legal issues are sorted out).

Still, I'm not quite sure a MMO is "best" for Fallout, a Ken says. As for MMO's doing something "new"... well, let's see now: Huxley? Dead (or missing in action). APB (not "new", killed a company, but coming back on life support from another), everything else seems to be free to play (fun stuff like FreeRealms which should be taken more seriously), underrated (Wizard 101) or trying to borrow too much from WoW. I'd say if The Old Republic takes off and sustains a huge user base, maybe there should be a Fallout MMo. Then again, I can see it turning off some players who want a less gloomy world to explore (or just hate big, radioactive scorpions crawling up on them in the Wasteland). We'll see, I guess...

Feh, I gave up playing MMO's a while back just because I prefer a decent story well told that I'm not forced to join up with others to fully enjoy. That, and I currently have a sucky connection and an "old" PC (by today's standards)...
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