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The Great Fallout Legal Battle Ends Without A Fallout MMO

As reported last week, the legal battle between Bethesda and Interplay over the final fate of a massively multiplayer online Fallout game has ended in a settlement, one that leaves full control of Fallout intellectual properties in the hands of Bethesda.

For those of you just joining the ongoing legal battle, when The Elder Scrolls developers Bethesda Softworks originally acquired the licence to the post-apocalyptic Fallout series in 2007, original owner Interplay was granted the rights to create a massively multiplayer online game based on the property with a pair of conditions: Interplay had to secure $US30 million in financing for the project, and development had to be in full swing by April of 2009.

Interplay met neither goal, so Bethesda parent company Zenimax took steps to take the permission back, and now they finally have it.

Under the terms of the settlement, Interplay no longer has a licence to develop the Fallout MMO. They are still able to sell copies of Fallout Tactics, Fallout and Fallout 2, but its permission to do so ends on December 31, 2013. Both sides are responsible for paying their own legal fees.

A separate but related lawsuit between Bethesda and developer Masthead Studios was settled in late December. Masthead has been tapped by Interplay to develop portions of the Fallout MMO, despite that the original Bethesda agreement forbade the company to subcontract. Masthead agreed that it had no rights to develop games using the Fallout licence.

In an official statement issued today, ZeniMax CEO and chairman Robert Altman expressed satisfaction with the settlements. “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.”

I guess this leaves it up to Bethesda to make their own Fallout MMO. Good thing they’ve got a studio established for such things.


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