MMO developer Turbine has filed a lawsuit against Atari seeking damages in excess of USD 30 million after the publisher allegedly failed to its fulfil its Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach publishing duties.
According to a court filing, reported by Gamasutra, the two companies signed a publishing agreement in 2003, several years before D&D's release in 2006. However, Atari subsequently "failed to meet its publishing and distribution obligations".
Turbine has claimed that when the game was released, it was forced to "step up" and assume Atari's publishing and distribution role itself, although the publisher "insisted" on working on the European release
The release wasn't handled as it should have been though, says Turbine, which accuses Atari of "effectively choking off sales in Europe," leading to revenue loss of an estimated USD 13 million.
Atari failed to provide marketing "in parity with competitive games" or adequate PR support, it has claimed.
The contract between the two companies was extended in May this year to May 13 2016, as D&D Online: Stormreach shifted to a free-to-play model, and Turbine said it "continued to invest millions" into the title, while paying Atari "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in future royalties.
But the developer claims Atari enacted a termination strategy in November 2008 - a move it says was made to clear the way for the launch of its own competing D&D title - believed to be Cryptic's Neverwinter Nights MMO.
"On information and belief, Atari knew... that it planned to immediately threaten to terminate the agreement in an effort to extort more money from Turbine or, alternately, to free itself from its obligations under the contracts in order to clear the way for the launch of its own competing MMO service based on the D&D and Advanced D&D intellectual properties," states Turbine's complaint.
"Turbine employed dozens upon dozens of people working hundreds of thousands of hours to create the service. To date, Turbine has spent millions of dollars towards the DDO franchise and continues to invest significant capital to operate and maintain the service," it continued.
The developer is seeking to recover "in excess of USD 30 million in losses" caused by Atari's "breach and wrongful conduct".