While it started with the major discrepancy in 2009 of who actually holds rights to the Fallout franchise, and who doesn’t, after the $5.75 million sale to Bethesda back in 2007, it has quickly declined into ostensibly petty courtroom drama, the latest of which includes a June 23rd court filing of Interplay stating that Bethesda knew all along that Fallout Online, the upcoming Fallout MMO, was set in the Fallout universe.
While that may sound like it should be a given regardless of actual licensing terms, Bethesda believes—according to Interplay—that the MMO developers “should have created an entire game of incompatible story, characters, and art and labeled it Fallout only in name,” a slight ribbing at how ridiculous that sounds.
Interplay goes on to further say that Bethesda had known for four years that they had interpreted their rights to the franchise to “include copyrighted content from the Fallout universe in order to make the MMOG a recognizable Fallout game.” Whether or not this is true with individual party interpretations set aside, the most damning point against Interplay (or perhaps for, if things work out) may come from a very discrete number of clauses in the licensing agreement where they had to have entered “full-scale” development with at least $30 million of funding by April 4, 2009 and then be vetted for quality by Bethesda, the latter of which Bethesda says they never fulfilled.
You can read more about the court document over at Gamasutra where the filing was originally discovered. This may just be another step in the arduous process of Bethesda striking Interplay where it is the weakest (their finances), but it seems that Interplay at least has some legal ground to stand on. We’ll see, however, as Interplay had previously announced Fallout Online’s launch for Fall of 2012. Perhaps it’ll come to fisticuffs.