Fallout MMO rights surrendered to Bethesda

Out of court settlement sees Interplay abandon claim for $2m

The long running legal battle between Interplay and Bethesda over the rights to publish an MMO based on the Fallout IP has been settled out of court, with Interplay surrendering its claim in exchange for $2 million.

Both sides will pay their own legal costs in the deal. Interplay retains the publishing rights to Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics until 31 December, 2013 - when they will also transfer ownership to Bethesda.

"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," said Robert Altman, CEO of Bethesda parent Zenimax.

"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."

The legal battle first began in earnest in 2009, two years after the 2007 deal which saw Bethesda buy the publishing rights for the IP.

In that instance, Bethesda sued Interplay for allegedly breaching the terms of the 2007 agreement by publishing the Fallout Trilogy pack, containing Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics, claiming that the company should have sought its consultation on packaging and marketing to avoid confusion with the recently released Fallout 3.

It was also during this first case when Bethesda began to ask for the rescinding of Interplay's right to work on and publish a Fallout MMO, which it had granted on the proviso that Interplay raise $30 million to fund the game within the two year period, and to have started work on the game's development - conditions which Bethesda maintained had not been met.

Interplay retained its rights over the first three games in that case, but the issues over an MMO continued to be contested.

In 2010, Interplay president Eric Caen claimed that Bethesda could have bought the rights to the entire IP for $50 million at the time of the deal, but the publisher had refused. Caen also insinuated that Bethesda had expected to obtain the rights through litigation all along.

How much work had been completed on the game by either Interplay or its contractor Masthead remains a mystery. Bethesda has yet to officially confirm that it will be continuing or beginning any work on a Fallout MMO itself.

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Latest comments (8)

James Prendergast Process Specialist 10 years ago
So is this basically confirmation that Interplay had no realistic intention of releasing the MMO or perhaps a sign of more financial difficulties leading to having to generate some quick cash?
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
@James. Remember that when the original deal was signed, subscription MMOs were seen as a golden goose, and Interplay probably thought they could restore themselves to former glory. The MMO landscape now is far different to what it was in 2007, or even 2009, and it was possibly no longer worth fighting when you are in as bad condition as Interplay.
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James Wells Gaming Contributor - 10 years ago
Not a bad payout for Interplay, especially considering it would've never been finished.
Now, perhaps they can get carckin' on that ClayFighter MMORPG!
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Show all comments (8)
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd10 years ago
I'm sure Interplay did not violate their contract and in fact had parts of the MMO working in 2009 as was agreed, but I'm also sure they ran out of money. $2 million won't sustain them for long, but it gives them a small shot at picking back up the pieces and maybe publishing something else successful.
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WELL time to start working on a Descent reboot!!!!!!???.... ;_;
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James Berg Games User Researcher 10 years ago
"In 2010, Interplay president Eric Caen claimed that Bethesda could have bought the rights to the entire IP for $50 million at the time of the deal, but the publisher had refused."

Link in that text is broken.

So is the idea that Fallout IP rights are worth 50 million dollars.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
While it might seem like a cool idea to many, personally, I hope we don't see a Fallout MMO anytime soon. Bethsoft needs to stay far away from any sort of MMO for the time being at least until the MMO market settles down a bit more (i.e., sifts out the crap games still around) AND they can release a RPG that's stable at launch across every platform. That, and I'm not sure a M-rated post-apocalyptic MMO will sell in as huge numbers as some would think (no one wants a watered-down Fallout universe, right?). Meh, we'll see at some point (I guess)...
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Kevin Patterson musician 9 years ago
Interplay should license a new decent for current or next gen consoles, it would be a must have purchase for me.
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