Crytek Sues Star Citizen Makers For Breaching Contract

Crytek Sues Star Citizen Makers For Breaching Contract

German game publisher Crytek is suing Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) for breaching contract and infringing its copyright, asking for a jury trial to determine the value of damages.

Star Citizen

The two companies had originally partnered on Star Citizen, which still has no release date but has raised nearly $US200 million ($262 million) in crowdfunding since it first launched on Kickstarter in 2012. CIG had used Crytek’s CryEngine technology and collaborated with the publisher on marketing, among other things. But as the years went on, their relationship disintegrated. As Crytek struggled to pay its employees, a large number of staff left the company for positions at CIG’s neighbouring office in Frankfurt, Germany. In December 2016, CIG announced that it had switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard engine, which is based on CryEngine – and which, ironically, may have saved Crytek from bankruptcy.

Now, in part because of that switch, Crytek is suing CIG. The lawsuit, filed in California, claims that CIG “promised, among other things, (i) to use the CryEngine game development platform exclusively and to promote that platform within the video game, (ii) to collaborate with Crytek on CryEngine development, and (iii) to take a number of steps to ensure that Crytek’s intellectual property was protected. [CIG] utterly failed to follow through on those promises, and their actions and omissions constitute breaches of contract and copyright infringement and have caused substantial harm to Crytek.”

The complaint alleges that CIG used Crytek’s engine for another game (the standalone module Squadron 42), failed to collaborate, and shared Crytek’s code with other parties, breaking confidentiality agreements. (Those other parties, according to the lawsuit, include a series of public videos called Bugsmashers and a third-party technology company called Faceware.)

When asked to comment by Kotaku, CIG sent over a statement: “We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court. CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.” 

CIG declined to answer follow-up questions about specific complaints in the suit.

You can read the whole lawsuit here:


    • I dunno, they got paid a fair bit by Amazon, as rumour has it.

      Also, they hired Skadden, one of the top 10 firms in the US. Not sure they would do that for a lazy cash grab.

      • But at the same time, Amazon bought their shit. Which SC uses. So….they’re still using Cryengine.

        • Not according to CIG.

          Amazon bought full rights to the source code (apparently the same branch of CryEngine that CIG bought a licence for). The difference between the two is that when CIG negotiated its agreement with Crytek, it agreed to only use CryEngine for SC and to display the CryEngine logo. Even if you argue that CryEngine = Lumberyard that doesn’t remove the obligation of CIG to display the logo.

          • But they display the Lumberyard logo, which IS the cryengine logo now, as they’re the ones who own it.

  • First thought from title: “What, was there a clause in their contract that Star Citizen had to actually release, ever, instead of serving as a vehicle for selling people pretty dreams?”

    • Possibly. There are some odds ones in the fine print.

      Clause A38, “For each hypothetical ship we mention as a possible feature, to be introduced at an undetermined date, shall allow us to add another month to any release window we once may have had.”

      Most people stopped checking by this point, but Clause K9 says Chris Roberts “or an appointed representative, with the appropriate notarised documentation” is entitled to jump a property’s fence and kick any resident dogs, should the owner accuse the project of feature creep.

      • But, but… they’re releasing proof of concept bits and pieces, some of which are even playable in isolation of anything resembling a coherent game!

        They wouldn’t do that just to string people along and pull in thousands for every new ship concept they come up with, would they?

        • Well, far be it from me to disparage their tech demos, but in my opinion…

          One sec. Buddy’s on the back verandah, crying like he ate a bee again. I might have to take the fuzzy idiot to the vet, and finish this comment later.

          • A little limpy, but he’s still game to attack the singing Christmas ornaments. Strangest thing, though the vet says someone probably just kicked him – but nobody was around. I did find a note, “Up yours, hippy. I’m a genius! Love, C.R” but I’m sure that was simply a coincidence…

  • The two companies had originally partnered on Star Citizen, which still has no release date but has raised nearly $US200 million ($262 million) in crowdfunding since it first launched on Kickstarter in 2012.

    It did not launch on Kickstarter. They only did the Kickstarter thing cos there own site crashed with the amount of people wanting to throw money at it. And even then, the site was still down all the time. lol

  • Sadly sounds like an all to typical cash grab from a failing company that once developed a single amazing engine which has sustained them for a long time! I’m clearly no lawyer but had a brief read through the lawsuit filed and while there are obviously one or two points that I would say certainly hold some water, overall it sounds fairly thin. The ONLY fact I would say sounds completely accurate within it is as follows “Under the GLA, Defendants agreed to pay Crytek a license fee for access to and use of CryEngine in the Star Citizen video game. Crytek agreed to charge Defendants a below-market license rate for CryEngine in exchange for Defendants’ agreements that they would among other things prominently display Crytek trademarks and copyright notices in the Star Citizen video game and related marketing materials.” Everything else is mostly hearsay or seems to me at least partially inaccurate interpretation at best.” And I’d say there was no breach of the above at least as far as I know. But hey, maybe that’s just me. Anyway, this saddens me but I wont be losing sleep over it anytime soon. Especially considering the guy from crytek that handled all these initial negotiations…now works for Roberts.

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