Activision has filed a lawsuit against Brütal Legend developer Double Fine Productions, which may delay or even prevent the release of the game by arch rival EA.
According to an Associated Press report the lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, at the same time that the game was receiving positive notices from its playable debut at E3. The suit claims that Double Fine failed to deliver the game on time, after USD 15 million of investment and requests for an additional USD 7 million and nine months of development to complete it.
Despite failing to come to an agreement with Double Fine over finishing the game, Activision says it never relinquished the rights to publishing it. The publisher now claims to have suffered "irreparable harm" from lost sales of both the original game and subsequent downloadable content.
"Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it," said Double Fine president Tim Schafer in response to the suit. "Oh great, now Beyoncé is going to sue me too."
Brütal Legend was originally to have been published by Vivendi Games, but following its merger Activision Blizzard passed on the game, along with other titles such as Ghostbusters: The Video Game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.
CEO Bobby Kotick infamously explained the decision by describing the games as not having "the potential to be exploited every year across every platform, with clear sequel potential that can meet our objectives of, over time, becoming USD 100 million-plus franchises."
Each game was picked up by a variety of different publishers, with Brütal Legend being one of the last to gain a new publishing deal - in its case from EA Partners.
Rumours of the lawsuit first emerged in February, suggesting that legal battle would be fought between publishing giants Activision and Electronic Arts. However, the actual lawsuit names only developer Double Fine Productions.