IP Hostage Has Been Released!

Posted by Daeity On Monday, January 9, 2012

Bethesda finally announced the outcome of their Interplay/Fallout legal battle in a press release today:


All Fallout® Intellectual Property Rights Belong Exclusively to Bethesda

January 9, 2012 (Rockville, MD) –ZeniMax® Media Inc. today announced that a settlement had been reached in the lawsuit filed by its subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks®, against Interplay Entertainment Corporation in 2009, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Interplay Entertainment Corp., seeking cancellation of the license granted to Interplay to develop a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) based on the Fallout brand. Bethesda maintained in its complaint that Interplay had failed to meet the conditions for the license and the license was therefore of no continuing validity.

Under the terms of the settlement, the license granted to Interplay to develop the Fallout MMO is null and void, and all rights granted to Interplay to develop a Fallout MMO revert back to Bethesda, effective immediately. Interplay has no ongoing right to use the Fallout brand or any Fallout intellectual property for any game development. ZeniMax will pay Interplay $2 million as consideration in the settlement, each party will bear its own costs of the litigation, and Bethesda will continue to own all Fallout intellectual property rights. Interplay will be permitted to continue to sell the original Fallout ®Tactics, Fallout® and Fallout® 2 PC games through December 2013, after which time all rights to market those games revert to and become the sole property of Bethesda. Under the original agreement pursuant to which Bethesda had acquired the Fallout property, Interplay was granted certain merchandising rights to sell those original Fallout games, but those merchandising rights will now expire on December 31, 2013.

Blah blah blah.. Interplay did bad things "allegedly"..
If you might recall, here's what I was predicting several months ago:
I think Interplay is just playing the long game. They might not have any money, but they're thinking ahead and they just need to hold out longer then Zenimax can in facing their private investors.

There's probably no real development happening, and Interplay has no serious plans to produce a Fallout MMO, so they're just waiting for Bethesda to fold and finally purchase the Fallout IP unconditionally with an outrageous price tag. This recent legal game is just demonstrating how desperate and unplanned Bethesda is in dealing with the situation. I think, in the end, Bethesda will completely own the Fallout IP but they'll pay an arm and a leg for it.
Interplay originally sold the Fallout IP for $5.75 million, and now they're selling it back to them again for an additional $2 million. (I wonder if there is anything else undisclosed in the settlement?)

Plus, Q4 ends December 31 (I guess that makes it FY2012 Q1 in the US?) and quarterly shareholders meetings will be held in late January to early February 2012.

Nailed it. :)

Even with the rights to the MMO, it's not like Bethesda is even planning on creating a MMO. They just wanted the full IP to move forwards with their single player adventures. Although, even without a MMO, multiplayer features are still very likely for future installments. There are a lot of problems creating a MMO of this genre, and it's something I'll be talking about soon.

(By the way, I'm guessing that the Diablo 3 Release Date announcement will be made before Activision Blizzard's early Feb shareholders meeting if they intend on releasing it by March. They'll want something nice to tell their shareholders, but they won't be revealing any pre-order numbers or anything. Cataclysm was announced 1 month before the shareholders meeting, but SC2 was announced just 3 days before the meeting. Cataclysm had Digital Pre-Downloads though.)