Press Release: Fallout MMO Rights Restored to Bethesda Softworks in Interplay Litigation

FALLOUT® MMO RIGHTS RESTORED TO
BETHESDA SOFTWORKS® IN INTERPLAY LITIGATION

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.      

The lawsuit against Interplay arose after Bethesda Softworks acquired all Fallout intellectual property rights from Interplay in April 2007, and conditionally licensed back to Interplay certain trademark rights to make a Fallout MMO, provided Interplay secured $30 million in financing for the MMO and commenced full scale development of the game by April 2009. Bethesda alleged in its complaint that Interplay failed to meet either condition of the license back agreement but refused to relinquish its license and insisted it would develop a Fallout MMO.  Bethesda filed suit to declare the license void.

In a separate but related matter, Bethesda commenced a second action against a purported developer of the Fallout MMO, Masthead Studios, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Masthead Studios Ltd. In the course of the original lawsuit against Interplay, Interplay had claimed that it had engaged Masthead Studios to develop the Fallout MMO under its license, and contended that Masthead was engaged in full scale development of that game. Bethesda filed its separate lawsuit against Masthead to assert copyright infringement and other violations of Bethesda’s intellectual property rights. Under the MMO license granted to Interplay, Interplay was not permitted to sublicense any rights granted without the prior approval of Bethesda, approval which had never been requested or granted.  In responding to Bethesda’s lawsuit, Masthead denied that it had been using any of Bethesda’s intellectual property in developing an MMO. Masthead and Bethesda settled that second lawsuit on December 29, 2011.  In the settlement, Masthead acknowledges it has no legal right to use any Fallout intellectual property, and agrees it will not use any such intellectual property of Bethesda in the future.  No payments were made by either party as part of this settlement. The two settlements resolve all pending litigation over the Fallout intellectual property owned by Bethesda.

Robert Altman, Chairman and CEO of ZeniMax, expressed satisfaction on behalf of the Company with the resolution of the two lawsuits saying, “While we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims to the Fallout IP. Fallout is an important property of ZeniMax and we are now able to develop future Fallout titles for our fans without third party involvement or the overhang of others’ legal claims.”

Following the purchase of the property, Bethesda Game Studios, the 2011 ‘Studio of the Year’ and the development team behind the 2011 ‘Game of the Year’, The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim™, developed Fallout® 3. ZeniMax Media’s publishing subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks, published Fallout® 3, a highly acclaimed sequel which won ‘Game of the Year’ honors in 2008, for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows. Bethesda also published the popular title, Fallout: New Vegas®, in 2010 for the same platforms. Fallout: New Vegas® Ultimate Edition, which will include the original game and the award-winning downloadable content in one special package, is planned for release by Bethesda in early 2012.

Reader Comments

    • Actually if bethseda would have lost this case it meant they coucld have only had the rights to make one more fallout game, now that they won they can make multiple fallout games.

  1. I was hoping Interplay would do the impossible and win. Bethesda is evil, and they don’t care about their products or fans.

  2. Bethesda should have at least given the rights for Interplay to be able to make the MMO. Without Interplay, Bethesda would have never had the widely successful IP.

    In other words, thanks for being a dick, Bethesda.

    • Um…in case you haven’t been following the particulars of the case, Interplay were in complete breach of their contract, failing to raise the required capital within the specified period of time.

      Bethesda did the right thing from a legal standpoint by filing suit when they did, only to be given the runaround by the oily Caen Brothers as they stalled for time in a case that wasn’t theirs to win.

      Also, the Interplay that exists today is NOT the Interplay that developed the original Fallout games — that studio (under Brian Fargo) is long since dead and buried, and exists spiritually today in the form of Obsidian Entertainment.

      So, Bethesda *HAS* done right by the franchise, giving the former Black Isle people another shot at a follow-up game, and it now appears that the dicks at the Caen Interplay have finally been given their walking-papers from the series.

  3. Let’s give it all back to Interplay, maybe the Zenimax put a billion of dollars for the completely restoration of the company too. The franchise still evolving, the owners of Interplay and her intelectual property, are receiving a good valor for sure. Maybe someone here became the next Fallout designer or story teller for Bethesda ;)
    People always say “is just money! money!” well, money = more games / money = jobs / money = chance to do better.

  4. None of you read.

    Bethesda buys FALLOUT from interplay, but in the deal agrees to relicense Fallout back to Interplay for them to develop an MMO as long as they met specific requirements that Bethesda believe they would be incapable of meeting.

    Interplay believing they have met the requirements goes ahead and contacts masthead and begins production.

    Bethesda knowing that any Fallout title released after the success of fallout 3 would make a bundle files a lawsuit on the grounds that interplay did not meet the ridiculous requirements they set in the first place.

    The suit ends in a settlement in which bethesda pays interplay to relinquish it’s right to a relicensing of the franchise for a rumored 2 million.

    Interplay never had a chance from the get go… because Bethesda never intended for them to make a Fallout MMO regardless of what Interplay did…

    Legally it is completely fine, but morally it isn’t really my idea of ethical business.

    Bethesda can tell a great story with a game, but I am getting a little tired of playing Morrowing over and over again. Interplay might not have made all of the new gamers happy, but then again there has been a serious lack of quality games released period since consoles have taken over the market. So regardless of what any of you 12 year old think you a losing in this deal. Variety and competition are the keys to having top quality products out on the market. There can be no variety when the little guys are smashed before they even get a start. Interplay is not the company it was in the old days true, but I think they deserved a chance to give us something thing different.

    Thank you Bethesda, for helping spend my money on wiser things than video games.

    • interplay had the rights to an online version with conditions
      they didnt meet the conditions and lost the rights in 2009
      its taken this long for it to be settled

      beth have full fallout rights now as interplay were not commited to the online game

      • Uh, they met the conditions. It’s because they met the conditions that Bethesda caused a stink in the first place and tried to argue the wording of the contract to prevent them from making the MMO, which caused Interplay to question the wording in turn, and that’s why we had this entire legal issue in the first place. Interplay was fully commited to making the MMO. Perhaps if you stopped worshipping a company that releases the same game over and over again with a new skin you’d realize that.

    • Okay, first, a deal was struck. Second, it’s Interplay’s obligation to meet it. Third, Interplay were trying to bilk Bethsoft for £30,000,000 for Fallout + MMO rights rather than the £5,000,000 it went for. Bethsoft offered a counter-deal and Interplay accepted, right then and there they decided they’d try and meet the obligations and FAILED. Not Bethsoft’s fault.

  5. Keep Fallout and Elder Scrolls titles as Single Player only !!!
    Don’t give in to the MMO movements, we already have WoW and SWTOR, but are lacking in good Single Player experiences like Skyrim and F:NV

  6. So Interplay sold the rights to mutilate the remnants of Fallout’s corpse to Bethesda for $2 million instead of mutilating the remnants themselves? Oh this is so exciting.
    So when our new MMO codename “Skyrim with guns” comes out?

  7. I was getting upset reading this… then I got to the end, and realized…

    Bethesda was right. But now I know where all my money went, that I paid for Skyrim.

    Still waiting for the CK and something that resembles game-fixes… Nooo, they take vacations, sue everyone, and then go to speak about the greatness of the game, which is still standing at the starting-gate.

    Interplay died because it failed to make money. Bethesda has money rolling out their pockets. I think it is safe to say, who the actual winner is… The customer.

  8. as much as i’m happy for bethesda to have won their suit & as much as i’d like to play the fallout mmorpg that’s pretty sure going to be made now, there’s still one thing about all this that bugs me:
    fallout mmorpg == no more standalone fallout games. ever. :-|

  9. Serious? Bethesda ruin the Fallout legacy (personal opinion), i got my hopes up when interplay was putting their hands on the Fallout once more (even if it was an MMO), but now, well just lost them all over again.

    Well all i can wish now, is GL for Bethesda

    • one question @whoknows (“Serious? Bethesda ruin the Fallout legacy personal opinion), i got my hopes up when interplay was putting their hands on the Fallout once more [...]” and all you other bethesda-bad-oh-interplay-days-people out there:

      even apart from what all those posters tried to explain how the blackisle-dev’s from back then == the obsidian-folk that made nv, say:
      did any of you ever happen to play the van-buren-fallout3-demo? i certainly did (as well as the original fo1&2 back in the days), and MAN did that suck and MAN was that ugly and MAN was that outdated for even back then, there were PLENTY reasons for not to publish this, i tell you – but anyway: would you REALLY have been happier if this had come out instead of bethesda ever creating fo3 as it is now? and if yes, please explain how, cause that’d really be beyond me (even how beth’s fo3 starts alone was worth it, if you ask me)

  10. The fallout franchise should remain single player, and developed by Bethesda. It was a poor choice to start this deal in the first place, and now both companies have suffered. Glad to hear it’s finally over, but what happens to interplay’s work? does it just get tossed out?

    • What work? If you look at Interplay’s financials, they spent exactly $1 million over 4 years on fallout MMO. Thats nothing. Even the interplay CEO took more salary than that. They farmed it out to Masthead. Masthead just settled saying they don’t have a right to use any of the IP and won’t.

      My guess is that all that was ever done was those teaser screenshots.

    • I agree with you.
      By the way, if the multiplayer support someday appear, i really wanted support for LAN and MS/Sony networks. But, without the MMO element… it’s amazing how is boring the type of game, imagine paying. I remember Hexen (id/Raven) so cool! amazing cooperative game inside a fantasy world, imagine this today! with the duel element too. Sometimes i miss the old days.

  11. Trust me the last thing Bethesda will do is ditch their RPG style of gaming. In 2010 Ideas for a new Fallout RPG was in the works while Skyrim was being made. Robert Altman said that “we are now able to develop future Fallout titles”. Titles with an “S”, no MMO has multiple titles no worries Fallout 4 RPG is on the way ( :
    (Sorry about my Grammar)

  12. Interplay is a publishing company. Fallout 1 and 2 was developed by guys from Black Isle who then formed Obsidian Entertainment.

    Yeah, developer (or co-developer?) of Fallout: New Vegas.

    So I doubt that taking franchise from Interplay will somehow affect Fallout series. I think that Bethesda should create more projects with Obsidian, because F:NV was much better than original Fallout 3 (though, Fallout 3 was also a great game).

    • Black Isle Studios was a division of Interplay. So, Blacke Isle = Interplay.
      But yes, later some employee (such as Feargus Urquhart and Chris Avellone) formed Obsidian and Troika Studios.

      PS: this “new Interplay” have nothing to do, with the “old Interplay” in the 1990s.

      PPS: i played all Fallout Games and yes, Fallout 3 is a great game, BUT! Fallout 3 is the worst of the Fallout Games (Main Storyline -> Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3 and New Vegas)

  13. Wow, I’m amazed that someone used the name theonlypersononthenetthatreads, and yet even you lie. You obviously either never finished grade school, or where taught to read mandarin. Bethsoft didn’t buy fallout from interplay. They already had it, and they farmed it out to interplay, who then farmed it out to masthead. Either way I don’t care, just make fallout 4 already, and if you insist on doing mmo then do like the Call of Duty guys. Keep the same great single player rpg, and then an option for mmo. I know sounds funny, and like it wouldn’t work. Yet it’s the best way to test the mmo waters.

  14. I am so glad that this was the outcome to the case. Fallout will stay in the hands of people who have demonstrated that they’re committed to the brand and the fans of the brand.

    To those who apparently think that Interplay is “the little guy” getting screwed over… remember that the reason Interplay disappeared off the map for the last 10ish years is that they refused to pay their employees… for months. And then, when they were finally taken to court to force them to pay, it turned out they didn’t have the money.

    Since then, all the good people who made the games have moved on, and currently, “Interplay” is just the right to use the studio’s name. It’s owned by people who (and I’m guessing here) were apparently hoping to produce a game cashing in off the goodwill that people still have for games like Baldur’s Gate and the original Fallout. The name “Interplay” doesn’t magically mean that the game is going to be as good as the games the studio was producing in the 80’s an 90’s. If they had been able to produce an MMO (or any other Fallout game) it would have been a festering turd, owing to the fact that the people who made the good games that we all remember no longer work for Interplay.

    On the other hand, Bethesda looks kinda like a dick for protecting their interests. That’s more the fault of the way copyright is set up right now, where if you don’t aggressively defend your copyright, you risk losing it. Even one of the nicest men in existence, Neil Gaiman, comes off as a dick when he’s defending his copyright.

  15. MMO is a terrible idea for at least the one reason that with multiplayer game you cannot use any “creation kits” or modding at all. The game “may be” more interesting by “much more intelligent” opponents from other live persons, but that is all advantage here. I hate Warcraft MMO and what they’ve done with their product from great strategy game to current awful online virtual “thing” by collecting stupid points there…

  16. I think it’s sad that the MMO will be scrapped. We’ve seen other companies make MMO’s which are mostly just 3d graphics over the old Multi-user dungeons of the past. With the exception of some of Brad McQuaid’s work, all MMO’s are pretty much the same WoW clone these days.

    I wanted to see a fallout or elder scrolls MMO just to see a different company known for being different make one.

    The firm opposition to the MMO community crossing the Elder Scrolls or Fallout community is based on the fear that the franchise’s quality will deteriorate. I may just be an optimist, but I think the expectations of both franchises will make the game be new levels of innovative, as long as Sony or Blizzard don’t license the rights.

    The opposition may just come from a bunch of loners afraid of a social community that antagonizes their social anxiety disorder.

    And to anyone who thinks multiplayer elder scrolls or fallout would mean no mods, I refer you to a little game call Neverwinter Nights. Not a GREAT game, but enjoyable all the same. A REAL game company (I hate Bioware) might be capable of making a truly great game. The lack of an MMO of these two franchises is more a sign of the companies lack of confidence in accomplishing the design of the game and appears not to be any sort of moral opposition to the nature of cooperation in video games.

  17. Fallout 3 is the best pc game i have played. I was a hardcore Anarchy Online MMORPG fan but yes F3 really changed my opinion about pc gaming. It sucks to turn Fallout series into mmo… The story is important and oh there is only 1 lone wander / courier guy. Bestheda is simply fantastic so keep up the good work guys!

  18. First of Gratz. to Beth. on the win.
    I like all the Fallout games, yes that includes Fallout Tactics, i havent played brotherhood of steel, so i wont comment on that one. I hate the idea of an Fallout MMO, the Fallout world is not meant for it, but the option of LAN or be able to play it with a couple of frinds might work. And for thoese of you that blames Fallout 3 and NV for being buged and prone to chrashes, remember that the original games also was bugged and crashed on a regular basis.
    The problem with many of topdays games is that they focus on Grafics and how smoothe it looks and feels, that they negelct Gameplay and story. somtimes i miss my C=64 and my amiga, the games might not have been the best to look at , but the gameplay was more importent than grafics back then.
    The only thing i hope for in Fallout 4, is that they control themseves when it comes to giving out exp. Its kind of a downside that you can be max level and only played half of the game.. well thats all from The Old One. Oh happy new year to you all..

  19. oh waaaah guys.seriously, skyrim, fallout and fnv are all awesome games, just like everything else bethesda touches. i’m stoked that bethesda got the rights for this. i agree with the old one, and they should raise the level progression to 100 levels and really pull out the stops with side quests and plot quests.