Press Release: 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

  1. Awww, i was looking forward to this because it’d be awesome.

    Guess we can only hope Bethesda themselves will release such an MMO then 😉

    • Wait what? Did you look into this at all? At who was doing the game? It was farmed out to a bulgarian studio. Masthead has exactly one credit to their name, a post apocalyptic MMO that failed at subscription and is now F2P. A MMO that has received very poor reviews (the few I could find rated it less than 45%).

      Even if it was ever shoved out the door, it would have likely been a very poor game.

    • And I highly doubt they will, in the reasonable future anyways… Apparently the game was making progress. Kinda pissed they dumped it like that.

  2. Good job Bethesda, you screwed over the company that gave you Fallout, go to hell.

    whatever happened to respect in this industry.

    • Uh, actually, the company that created Fallout, (Black Isle) were given the license to make a Fallout game… and did. You might know it as Fallout: New Vegas.

    • @ King of the Wastes

      Yeah, celebrating a companies hard work going down the tube because of a greedy publisher is awesome.

  3. Good to see this mess is finally behind you guys. Ironically the millions Interplay spent litigating this could have gone toward that $30 million budget the original licensing called for.

  4. I hope Biowares TOR has sparked something at Bethesda, and now with this news. My bet is a Announcement at E3 2014 or a Fallout 4 announcement 2013 at E3

  5. a sad day for all true Fallout fans.

    hopefully Obsidian get the full rights to make Fallout games for Bethesda, since Bethesda just made a derp console FPS with retarded plottwists (“have you seen my dad? a middle aged man”, Three-Dog AAWWOOOO and 200 LOL endings)out of the original franchise.

  6. It’s like… I don’t want to read all of that official statement, regarding law and copyright infringement. But once you start, you just can’t stop ’till you finish.

    I always think such business is ugly, but I suppose that it is necessary for our system to work.

  7. Bethesda please don’t close fallout online and shut it out even though you didn’t make please release it ive waited since 09 for that game to be released im begging you. 🙁

  8. Hopefully Bethesda Will Just Drop The MMO Idea As Fallout Was Always A Immersive Single Player Experience Where You Would Just Sit Down And Be Engrossed In The Game But For Me MMO Never Really Could Fit That Experience As Well As A RPG

  9. You guys make shit Fallout games. You’d better give it up to the real pros (Obsidian) when you do this shit or you won’t get another purchase from me.

  10. Pfft. You guys can’t do an MMO of any kind. We’d all be falling through the floor for the first few months. Seriously, I always loved Bethesda games and the TES series since I was little, but why did you have to buy and ruin Fallout?

    The only reason why New Vegas was good was because of Obsidians decent writing. It’s a shame really, I remember when Bethesda didn’t dumb down and casualize their games to hell just to make a quick buck.

    I’m not from No Mutants Allowed by the way, I still think you’re a good developer. But I’m just disappointed.

  11. Oh, and if you honestly don’t approve my message just because it says something you don’t want to hear, you’re pretty pathetic. I didn’t insult you guys or the company.

  12. just thinking Bethesda if you release you could get back the two mill you gave to interplay on release date you could make 4 mill if you release the game if you do you’ve got my money and also if you release a special edition please don’t let it go to waste. 🙂

  13. Good karma!!
    I do not know how to consider an MMO… after a while, the kind of game is an infinite loop of the same things. The only difference is the human element, accompanying you on your journey. On YouTube, Machinima Channel, you can check how the Interplay lost everything.
    Bad management, is a sin for almost all developers from the 90´s and beggin of 2000. Now, a lot of artists, coders and designers of the “golden age” are trying the indie scenario.
    Hope some of those guys dont !@#$ this new sector… millions of dollars lost in the hands of those “ancient gods”.

  14. I really hope that this will lead to Bethesda developing a Fallout MMO. Otherwise, these news are disappointing indeed.

  15. Great Bethesda, once again they are showing us that they are turning into micro$oft. Way to go guys, you’re ruining your reputation even more… I think Bethesda should worry more about making QUALITY games instead of worrying about money.

    • Yeah, Bethesda, a business, shouldn’t be concerned with money at all. How dare they worry about money; money in no way impacts their ability to make games. Why does everybody think that game makers should never be concerned about money? MMOs aren’t quality games anyway, so they’ve successfully squashed a bad game from being made. Everybody should thank them for that at least.

        • They didn’t care about the MMO part… If Bethesda lost, they would have lost rights to the whole Fallout license…

          • And to be honest, I don’t think that would’ve been such a bad thing. Bethesda dumbed down the serious from a delicate, tasteful wine, to cheap whiskey with the same label.

  16. Oh, thank god. I love *old school* Interplay, but they’ve been dead and gone for a long time now.

    The Interplay that would’ve made the MMO are the same folks who made Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, and owned by the suits responsible for Superman 64.

    No good would’ve come of it.

  17. As long as Bethesda Game Studios doesn’t make the MMO, I’m glad. Let another ZeniMax studio do it. I want Fallout 4 or another TES game! Preferably another TES game.

  18. Now they can finally announce their Zenimax Studios MMO they are making in Hunt Valley, MD as the Fallout MMO. Sad because I had signed up for beta access to the Fallout MMO back in the day.

  19. Sounds like Bethesda is just being a bunch of greedy mothers. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Go ahead and delete this post but my point still stands, and I know a thousand other people reading this are thinking the same thing.

  20. Glad this had been settled.
    Interplay already killed their own franchise with Brotherhood of steel.
    And a Fallout MMO would be a total trainwreck.
    And it would not do it any good WHATSOEVER.

    And I am loling over these idiots thinking Bethesda is taking the dirty path when really, this is shit everyone has been doing for a while to protect their interests that SATISFIES THE CUSTOMERS.

    Seriously, do you want an ugly, ill developed MMO by a defunct company that already ruined their franchise?

    • Yup, Skyrim really satisfied their customers… Although, in the end, I do agree that Falliut MMO would have been disastrous. But it’s more about the fact that Bethesda seems to be suing people. Not just Interplay.

  21. Well license and money stuff aside, it’s a bit sad to see the gaming industry slowly becoming like kindergarten…
    It’s not about who make the better or the most original game anymore, it’s all about preventing other company to make standard games that could surpass another because it has fancier graphics (well bethesda is one of the few that are not at this point for now)… Well I guess this is now the domain of lawsuit more than programmer…
    Soon they will fight over the right to put an ui item with a sliding button more than on the actual game…

    Anyway this story had gone for to long and had to be settled one way or another… I lost interest about it a long time ago…

  22. Good. Never wanted Interplay’s MMO in the first place, and this was all their own undoing, anywhow. I WOULD like for the core New Vegas people (Sawyer, Urquhart, Avellone, etc.)to team up on Fallout 4 with Beth, though, please. Or at least on DLC.

  23. Derpson: don’t hate on Bethesda simply because they are massively successful; they had an agreement with interplay and interplay failed to uphold its end….plain and simple.

  24. Good news. The game & brand is Bethesda’s from a purely intellectual point of view, and the rights should always stay with the original authors not with a faceless publisher.

    I look forward to seeing what Bethesda do with the MMO rights now they have them.

    I would prefer a Elder Scrolls MMO first though.

  25. So Bethesda, any news of what your going to do with the Fallout series now this is over. Some of us like it more than TES and would love to hear something, even if its a to do list.

  26. I do not know about the MMO element. Imagine a Tamriel Online, with all cities and roads, transports and players… nothing is too big when became online, people populate pretty fast. I wonder, walking for Slyrim, and from nowhere a rain of books, food, weapons, because 100 Dragon-borns are trying winning a prize during a contest about “the best FUS DO RA”.

  27. The only thing that worries me is the ownership of the selling rights of the old Fallouts. If that change hands, maybe those games will not be available to buy anymore from GOG or Steam.

  28. How many MMOs do we need? I hope Bethesda never makes a Fallout MMO. Fallout was, is, and always will be an RPG.

    MMOs are expensive to run and they’re all the same.

    And who cares about Interplay? They never had the funds to do this, they never had the ability to make this project work as anything more than a half-arsed action.

    Bethesda is the master of RPGs as evidenced by their Elder Scrolls series. Their Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas were brilliant. People pining for FO1 and FO2 are missing the point – those games could never be made now. Technology has moved on. It’d be like pining for TES1 Arena and TES2 Daggerfall.

    This is the best news I’ve heard and the resolution I was hoping for. With the TES and FO series, Bethesda has the best one-two punch for immersive, cinematic, story-driven sandbox RPGs.

      • You kidding, right? A good MMO is a license to print money. Richard Garriot’s last failed MMO, Tabula Rasa, is estimated to have had a budget of $100,000,000 or more and WoW is estimated to make anywhere up to $1,000,000,000 a year.

    • Interplay didn’t make Fallout, Black Isle (the developers of PS:T and IWD) did. Interplay are just a publisher and what was ‘Black Isle’ was sold off and became Obsidian, aka the people who made New Vegas. You just slammed the developers of the games you loved.

    • brah, Black Isle made Fallouts 1 and 2. People from Black Isle made Fallout NV.

      And let interplay do what? They’ve been sitting with thumbs up their asses and not doing what the contract asked them to do. It’s Duke Nukem Forever all over again, except this time, Beth had the good sense to stop it before it got silly.

  29. Interplay didn’t make Fallout!

    That was Black Isle .. Interplay’s Development team.. Black Isle was cut from interplay after Interplay went broke and the team went on to form Obsidian.. You all fallowing me here? .. Interplay was sold off years ago .. No one there now has anything to do with Fallout .. And do you all remember who Bethesda let make New Vegas? .. OBSIDIAN! .. Bethesda isn’t screwing over anyone but some french guy who purchased Interplay when it went bankrupt and sold off all their licenses like “Fallout” .. So keep that in mind before bashing Bethesda for this lawsuit.

    • You mean the same New Vegas that Bethesda didn’t allow Obsidian to finish and then released it so it was full of bugs and all of the FO3 fantards insisted was ‘the worst Fallout game EVUR’? The same New Vegas that, despite all of its bugs, still crashed 1/5th of the amount that Skyrim does for me despite everyone insisting that Skyrim is an example of how great Bethesda’s games are and how they’re moving towards the future (you know, in spite of it just being Oblivion with a fresh paint job)?

      Face it, Bethesda’s screwed us all, and none moreso than the Fallout fans.

  30. Don’t blame Bethsoft – Interplay has been mismanaged badly. There were reports back in March that the company had only $3000 left before it went in to the red. Not to mention the few leaked screenshots were just plain bad.

    On an unrelated note am I the only one who doesn’t think the Fallout brand suits an MMO? Whilst the world is just starting to redevelop but the more succesful the game the more populated the world – you’d lose the isolation, you’d lose the community of shattered people just scraping by. It’s hard enough to make a close-to-believable economy in an MMO but in a game where scarcity is extreme I’d say only the very best developers could even come close to pulling that off.

  31. You don’t know the history of the franchise .. Interplay as it stands today is a hallowed out company with no connection to it’s past .. No one there had anything to do with fallout .. The fallout team went on to found Obsidian aka the people who made New Vegas.