Wormhole Brief: Jumpgate Lawsuit

By Jim Rossignol on December 7th, 2010 at 9:47 am.


Oh dear, it seems that the big old delay on the release of Jumpgate Evolution isn’t simply down to putting on a few more layers of polish. IncGamers spotted that Codemasters are suing developers NetDevil, and parent company Gazillion, for breach of contract. The UK publisher is seeking the repayment of development costs and its legal expenses. A PDF of the complaint filed can be found here. Codemasters have declined to make any further comment, but the proceedings leave the final release of the game in doubt. NetDevil had previously stated that they wouldn’t release the game until they were happy with it, so it will be interesting to see what further light is cast on that by the case.

But hey, it was kind of bland when we saw it a preview… (EDIT: It also seems that Netdevil founder, and Jumpgate originator, Scott Brown, has left Netdevil.)

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22 Comments »

  1. Love Albatross says:

    That is a shame, I was looking forward to THE GAME.

  2. frenz0rz says:

    Was excited about this game for a LONG time a couple of years ago, and was desperate for the beta which was supposedly due any week. Really, it was one of those few occasions with games where I allowed myself to be caught up in the hype, reading every scrap of information that was to be had and visiting the forums every day for months. Eventually though, with no new information and lack of dev updates, excitement became disinterest, and most of the community simply moved on.

    Still, im currently participating in the closed beta for BSG Online, so believe me when I say there is hope for the space-faring dogfight MMO yet.

    • Wulf says:

      You know what would be amazing? A Sword of the Stars-based spacefaring MMO. Since frankly that’s one of the most interesting settings I’ve ever encountered in that sort of game. Not the most, of course, that award belongs elsewhere, but one of the most.

      I would say Star Control II-based (with the Pkunk and Spathi as playable races), but who owns that and what can be done with it is all up in the air, so I think that such a dream would be impossible, I shan’t even torment myself with the possibility.

  3. Navagon says:

    Surely that would only make sense if Codemasters were no longer going to publish the title and that was NetDevil’s fault / decision?

    • Diziet says:

      What would only make sense?

      As far as I can read it codemasters have advanced significant sums of money to them as they reach certain milestones. As laid out in the writ failure to reach these milestones is a breach of said contract. It also states that Codemaster’s have honoured their end of the deal should such a breach occur and have tried to get the game back on track. Netdevil have refused leaving codemasters to resort to a court of law. What they are asking for is for monies to be returned as stipulated and for the contract to be rescinded.

      This all seems perfectly fair to me. They have given ~1.5$ million, are in serious doubt as to the viability of the game as it stands and they have not given milestones as promised since the buy out. The company that bought them out is trying to say they are not liable.

      Think i’m on the codies side with this one. It’s a lot of money to lose, or they could go the APB route and keep pouring the cash in of course.

    • Navagon says:

      So they can demand the entire sum back under those circumstances? It seems like the contract was very weighted in the Codies’ favour from the outset.

      If Codies had a better reputation of putting out completed, polished games and not just rushing a game out there and not offering any patches whatsoever then I might be more inclined to see them as being in the right on this one.

      Aside from their racing games, which are usually pretty polished on release, it’s anyone’s guess as to how busted up a Codies game is going to be when they throw it out the door. The lack of patches however is entirely predictable.

    • Starky says:

      Weighted in codies favour? Not really – that seems a perfectly reasonable development contract, split development payments delivered for reaching certain pre-determined and agreed upon milestones.

      Now if it has reached the stage where the developers have abandoned progress on the game, and are refusing to meet their contractually agreed upon quality standards then Codemasters have every right to sue them for breech of contract and full refund of investment.

      this happens ALL the time in other businesses, often involving a physical product granted, but more and more these days software development is starting to be viewed legally as a physical end product.

      ["cool story bro" tale below, cretins may skip]
      For example the company I used to work for sued a software company for much the same reason as this case.
      The company was supposed to develop some firmware for some industrial control hardware we were designing – we had contractually agreed upon measurements for quality standard
      The software had to deal with certain errors from the hardware, had to be able to run for at least an hour unattended without software error, had to be able to run for 48 hours with no fatal flaws and several other such requirements – and had to meet these targets in many consecutive tests.

      They failed to meet them, and refused to re-develop the software at their own cost (we’d already paid them a chunk of money, with the remaining sum to be paid on completion), we got in an external quality control officer to test the software for us and confirm it was indeed not to the required robustness.

      Then we sued. The company i worked for got all the money back, legal fees AND the uncompleted software’s source code and rights. The software company went bust 6 months later, less due to the money it had to pay us, more due to the fact that the companies name was now mud in the industry.

      Unlike games design, there is no room for half-arsed developers and dodgy code in industrial development. Especially when the code is usually several orders of magnitude simpler than game design.

    • President Weasel says:

      “It seems like the contract was very weighted in the Codies’ favour from the outset. ”

      Whether or not that’s the case, the fact remains that it’s a contract and Netdevil freely entered into it. “Waah, it’s not fair” isn’t a legal defence. It’s a reason not to sign a contract at the outset, and to renegotiate.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Maybe it’s a case of micro-text lawyer-code traps. You know: Stuff that, with the addition of a tiny meme, turns around the entire meaning of everything in the contract. I’ve seen such things. I was even caught in one such contract, made by an ex-sales-partner of mine. It was not what was defined. It was, what was *not* defined. A tiny loophole that allowed the client to pull as much work out of it as he wanted, for the same amount of money in return. And even with the same deadline!
      Yay!
      Let’s just say: I’m really happy that right now, I don’t have the need to have any contracts with any non-end-customers ever again.

  4. clownst0pper says:

    Seems pretty clear from the court papers filed.

    Jumpgate had great potential, Eve with true twitch-based space flight would be brilliant, as opposed to the doldrums of mouse clicks…

  5. Lobotomist says:

    When I first started following Jumpgate (was it 5 years ago allready ?) Scott Brown said that the game is almost finished (since they are only revamping old Jumpgate engine) and will be shipped in 6 months.

    This have turned in 2 years.

    Than NC started that they are doing complete rewrite of the game.
    Shortly after Scott Brown left Net Devil (he was creator of the game)

    And game dissapeared. There were literally no official posts on the forums for 1 and half year.

    Than year ago NC soft announced they are doing complete rewrite and that they scrapped all previous resources (again)

    And than silence. Again. Until they posted youtube video of the “new” game showing exactly the same footage as the video of 3 year old game. Hmmm

    Silence again…. 5 years have passed…

    Codemasters (known for their quick reactions) decided something fishy is going on….

  6. jonfitt says:

    Will they sue them for a gazillion pounds?

  7. Ovno says:

    Dammit but I want a proper space flight mmo….

    I suppose theres always dark prophecy….

  8. Brian Rubin says:

    Gorrammit. As someome who LOVED Jumpgate Classic (it’s my most-played MMO), this saddens me greatly.

    • Ogun says:

      Aye, this is sad news. Picked up a 30-day trial about 30 days before they shut down the EU server on Jumpgate Classic and really enjoyed it. Not normally a fan of MMOs but had been looking forward to this one ever since.

      Hopefully one day, a massively multiplayer space shooter will make it all the way to release and be a real game rather than vapourware or another pointy-clicky-fuckabouty/menu-bashing MMOAARGHPG type of thing.

  9. Count Elmdor says:

    A shame, what.

  10. Gaff says:

    I’ve been following JGE for a few years now, but the recent lack of information with regards to both a release date and just general game information (that you would ordinarily expect to see in a title ramping-up closer to a retail release) is worrying.

    Some of my friends and I were really hoping that this would be Freelancer Online, in the sense that you would have a vast open galaxy to explore and could progress a character in whatever direction you would like (pirate, explorer, trader, etc.)

    Scott Brown’s departure from NetDevil and now the Codemasters lawsuit, makes me wonder whether this game will ever see the light of day. This is especially the case given that NetDevil presided over Auto Assault, another failed MMO title from the recent past.

    We’re not in Huxley territory just yet, but it’s not looking good.

  11. zombiehunter says:

    Who cares? Black Prophecy is allready in Beta… and that one’s fun! JGE can’t beat BP. gn8

  12. strange headache says:

    That’s all I can think of right now: