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Due South

Southpeak's chairman Terry Phillips and CEO Melanie Mroz on a difficult 2010

Publisher Southpeak Interactive has drawn more than a few troubling headlines over the last years, with a number of erstwhile partners – CDV, Paradox, Nobilis and Timegate – bringing about legal action against the US firm. While rarely responding publicly to these claims, Southpeak has maintained throughout that much of the reporting has been inaccurate. It also claimed late last year that its legal woes were at last behind it, leaving it primed for a better 2011.

Many of the publisher's former partners have had their say, including staff from 2009 acquisition Gamecock, whose former CEO alleged that Southpeak was trying to avoid paying off its debts. Southpeak itself has traditionally been tight-lipped on such accusations, but chairman Terry Phillips and CEO Melanie Mroz agreed to an interview with GamesIndustry.biz just before Christmas.

GamesIndustry.biz It looks like 2010 might have been a bit of a tough year for Southpeak – how are you feeling about things now?
Terry Phillips

Yeah, obviously we're in a challenging business and lots of things can present challenges to us. This year was relatively challenging, but we're pretty optimistic going forwards, with where we're headed.

GamesIndustry.biz You've suggested that there's been misinformation in the reportage of your various legal issues over the year. Can you clarify what it was that you believe was inaccurate?
Terry Phillips

I think probably all of it has some truth; a lot of it has some parts that we haven't been given due correctly. From our standpoint, we're disappointed that some people have used the press for some... we'll call it misinformation, if not perhaps outright something else. But we'll call it misinformation - 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. But if you go through the various litigations and read about them I guess it would sound pretty bad, but whether it was CDV or Nobilis or any of those things, in each of those cases we've pretty much won our position. We've had to defend our right on more occasions than we've liked, but we're required to do that as public company, we have to defend our rights and our investments.

GamesIndustry.biz You talk about winning in these judgements - it's been a bit unclear how these cases have actually been resolved. Was it settlements or legal decisions in your favour?
Terry Phillips

Specifically, the big issue for us has been the My Baby franchise and the challenges that have been going on with that whole thing. We think that's a great franchise and we worked hard to build that franchise, and we got a clear judgement from the French court that the contract was fraudulently terminated and our rights fully exist under those contracts. So those games are our games, and we'll continue to fight and continue to protect our rights under each one of those games.

GamesIndustry.biz What is the status there? Will you have to start the fight over for each new My Baby game?
Terry Phillips

There was a list of titles that were on the contract that we had with Nobilis - the ruling just came down on December 7. 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.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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