E3 2009: Publisher taking developer Double Fine to court over EA Partners game it passed on after Vivendi Games merger; Tim Schafer offers lyrical response.
LOS ANGELES--This week's Electronic Entertainment Expo was supposed to be a sort of coming-out party for Double Fine Productions' Brutal Legend. The game is set to complete its rocky road to release with an October launch, and publisher Electronic Arts has been promoting it heavily at the show. It dedicated a portion of its press conference to the game and plastered a massive Brutal Legend banner over the front of the Los Angeles Convention Center's South Hall.
Activision is looking to crash that party. The Associated Press reports that the Tony Hawk publisher filed suit against Double Fine in a Santa Monica court yesterday to prevent the game's release. According to the news service, Activision is claiming it still has the rights to release Brutal Legend, even though the game was among a slew of titles dropped by the publisher last year in the wake of its merger with Vivendi Games. The publisher also noted that it had invested roughly $15 million in Brutal Legend, according to the report.
The lawsuit isn't entirely surprising. Activision had threatened such a move in February, according to a report in Variety. At the time, an unnamed EA source told the trade magazine, "We doubt that Activision would try to sue. That would be like a husband abandoning his family and then suing after his wife meets a better looking guy."
Representatives with Activision and Electronic Arts had not returned requests for comment as of press time.
[UPDATE]: Double Fine president Tim Schafer passed the following comment on to GameSpot: "Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it. Oh great, now Beyonce is going to sue me too."
Bah.. Go pump out another COD knock off and let the new IPs have a chance Activision.. Beh, they actually make EA look like the good guys.
Activisions smartest move has been selling crap to people for $60...CoD: Modern Warfare. I hate them so much
Activision shot themselves literally in the foot and butt by firing the director and lead head designers from Infinity Ward. Yeah great move...
Activision feels like they are the greatest, just because of modern warfare's success doesn't mean that you're in control of everything. Throwing out a game and now that the better company picks it, you want to get it back? That's crazy. Modern Warfare's the only game I liked from Activision and the credit goes to Infinity Ward.
I don't think Activision is horrible. Mainly cause of Modern Warfare. But i probably have actually EA in the past.
Activision is such a bunch of corporate wimps that Vivendi/Universal should have bought them out instead of offering a merger.
I'm gonna get a lot of hate for this but I like EA. I always have. Okay that said. I think Activision needs to grow up. They haven't produced many games that I've liked recently and acting like a dumped girlfriend because her ex found someone better only makes them sound worse. Had they treated Double Fine properly they may have a game coming out in October. However now they don't and the only reason they are suing now is because they know the game will do well. Good Luck EA!
I was toying with buying Prototype this weekend. Now being reminded what a nasty company Activision are, there is no way they will get my money.
@ PyroPice Glade to see your proud to be an American. However I do not understand what being an American business owner has to do with being an %$#$hole. The fact that people think EA is the good guy should say something to the people at Activision. They obviously do not care about how they are perceived as a company and will steamroll anyone to get what they want. If EA can change the way they do business then so can Activision. They will not get my money so long as they are acting this way. Activision decided that they did not want to do business with Double Fine. So Double Fine went out and found a new publisher. The decent thing to do would be to let them move on. But I do not think that common decency means anything to someone like you.
How lame. If Activision 'dropped' the title, the least they could do is give it to someone else to make. It looks quite humerous, and there is no justification for mearly letting the title disappear.
I hope Activision loses this and Brutal Legend does extremely well because of the increased attention Activisions lawsuit has brought to this game. At first I wasn't interested in the game but seeing how Activision is making a huge deal out if it now has got me wanting to purchase it when it comes out.
Heck, this whole situation makes me want to buy this game just to stick it to Activision for the arrogance they've shown by suing. I hope Double Fine sells a few million copies of this game and that Activision ends up losing their case and paying ridiculous amounts of legal fees for their stupidity. BOOOOOO!!!!
im on Activision side on this one i would be pissed off too, I hope activision wins, But the games looks like crap anyway
5 days and this is still the top story? Come on, one company suing another one isn't that big a news story.
Tim Schafer is hilarious. That's what I'd say if I were the creative mind behind such a great (hopefully) product.
too bad activision has a good game coming out. (Modern Warfare 2) now im gonna have to semi-boycott activision.
Surely if Activision still held the rights, they'd have had to object when Double Fine submitted it's copyrights for the game? I've lost all faith in Activision and think they've followed Ubisoft in the "EA Sports School of Business" scenario (i.e. cheap remakes for high profit).
"Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it. Oh great, now Beyonce is going to sue me too." At least someone can see this in a humorous way.
majere613: EA isn't the one being sued, Double Fine is. Schafer strikes me as the kind of guy to say "The hell with the price, this is about principle" and take the suit to the mat. That may cost DF more in the short run, but if he can get a win in court and force Activision to pay his legal fees, Activision would come up as the big loser. And wouldn't that just be a shame. :)
I'm sure I've said this before, but the way this will go is very likely to be just the same as the legal wrangling over Watchmen. There's no way Actvision will be able to stop BL coming out, but they could delay it and cause EA to run up some big legal fees. Therefore, there will almost certainly be some sort of out-of-court deal struck that means Activision get some free money and EA lose less than they would have ended up paying lawyers and rescheduling BL. Of course, a few guys at Activision will probably burn in hell/ reincarnate as cockroaches/ [insert moral punishment of choice here] but business types rarely care for such epherma where the Almighty Dollar is involved.
Is this still the lead story? Has GameSpot started a week long vacation since E3 or something? C'mon Gamespot, I went to E3, and your after party outside the Vibiana on the other side of downtown, and continued to party till 3:00 am, and STILL managed to go to work at 8:30 am the next day. You don't see me making excuses!
as MaxPower15 so eloquently puts it, "I find it hilarious that you nerds are getting angry over a company "being greedy"." Well why not? the spirit of video games have always been about freedom. This may very well be an awesome game, I was stoked for it. I can't believe Activision has the balls to stand up against the gamers who want this game released and say "Well we had it first!" they're acting like children. They canceled the title, they had no plans of releasing it, their contract should be null and void. Don't invest $15 million into something you're just gonna throw away. I used to dislike EA until they released Dead Space, and now they are publishing this gem of a game. All I can say is that this probably won't go as activision has planned, unless they have in their contract that even if the game is canceled, activision still retains the rights. I doubt Tim Schafer is dumb enough to agree to that
If Brutal Legend doesn't get released thanks to Activision, I think I might have to boycott. At least none of the announced "Hero" games are must-haves...sorry, Modern Warfare 2.
"They should have canceled it and still keep the game so no one else takes it." The point is that they didn't, and deserve to have their asses legally kicked for this tripe.
Like what Michael Douglas in wall street " greed is good." Morally corrupt sure, but it greed that carries one to success. Without greed, good guys finish last.
I find it hilarious that you nerds are getting angry over a company "being greedy". All companies want more money. When activision dropped it, they did so not expecting anyone else to pick up the franchise. They should have canceled it and still keep the game so no one else takes it. This wasn't activision's idea as much as it was blizzard's.
PyroPice, if they don't own the property anymore, they have no grounds to sue. If they dropped it after sinking 15 Million into it, thats their fault. The fact is that it's EA's IP now. Activision took a risk, felt that it wouldn't pan out, and dropped the title. Turns out, they're stupid, and they should've kept it. Now they want to sue because they messed up. I don't know where you're going with this business model stuff. What does their business model have to do with a fruitless lawsuit that they have a slim to no chance of winning? Do you think judges should just illegally award money to anyone who fritters it away stupidly? I'm sure you noticed the big IF in my first sentence. If yes, you're severely misguided, if not, then you're just a tool, because it would be about copyright and you never mentioned the word. And for the record, they gave 15 mil to Double Fine and kicked them to the curb. EA picked them up off the street and now Activision wants to beat up EA so they can take Double Fine's 15 mil back. These are the morons you are defending.
I have no love for EA in fact I hate them. But Activision is at the top of my list of companies I hate, the first being Microsoft. And don't you 360 fanboys get on my case about the MS thing because I own a 360 and I love it, I just hate MS as a whole. Anyway Activision drops the game totally did they expect Tim Schafer and Double Fine not to go find another publisher? To me Activision dropped the game in the first place because they had no faith what so ever in Tim Schafer and Double Fine. And now that they see that Brutal Legend is turning out to be a kick ass game and that it's becoming popular they want the game back!? To hell with them! They are a day late and a dollar short and I hope Activision loses in court big time! I have no respect for them at all. Activision is just trying to get the game back so they can take all the credit for what EA and Double Fine's work. If Activision wins I will not buy the game.
Activision is turning into the bitter ex-wife that is trying to take everything they can (even if it's not theirs) because they have that scary feeling they are in a mudslide that they can't control.
see i for one am american, and running a bussiness has always been something americans look highly upon, and letting 15 million of your investment money go straight to the compeition sound like an extreamyly poor bussiness model (@darth_ultima , legally they are the same comapny now, meaning yes they did in fact pay 15 million). Oh and dont call me hypocritical, I defend bussiness constantly, look around you, most of these kids were saying the EXACT same thing about EA last year (ironically the comapny they are now defending)
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