Neverwinter Online vs D&D Online Argy-Bargy

Vorpal short sword +2 vs sinister publishers

Something is rotten in the state of pretend online roleplaying universes. Atari, or at least what’s left of it these days, remains license holder for most videogamilial adaptations of Dungeons & Dragons properties, most notably Forgotten Realms titles including Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. They also publish the Turbine-developed Dungeons & Dragons Online, which is shortly to be relaunched as the free-to-play DDO Unlimited. Only Turbine reckon Atari’s gearing up for betrayal…

To be specific, Turbine – a fair old heavyweight these days thanks to the comfortable success of Lord Of The Rings Online – are suing Atari for failing to supply the necessary resources for DDO’s ongoing state despite enjoying regular royalty cheques. Apparently, Atari have nonetheless accused them of withholding further monies and information, which Turbine claims is part of an Atari attempt to renege on their contract for DDO. Eek.

Why? Because of another D&D-based MMO, allegedly. And what’s that, exactly? Well, the rumour is that recentish Atari acquisitions Cryptic (that’s why Champions Online wasn’t ultimately handled by originally intended publishers 2K) are working on a Neverwinter Nights MMO, presumably intended to be another crack at doing D&D online properly, in the same way Lucasarts have opted to make The Old Republic rather than try to rescue Star Wars Galaxies.

All unconfirmed rumour and conjecture obviously, and for all we know Atari are in the right, but certainly Turbine are spitting mad about it – to the tune of a whopping $30m (that link’s to 1.1Mb PDF, incidentally). And possibly with good cause, if this is all happening on the eve of the potentially successful reboot of DDO.

On the other hand, DDO, in its original form at least, wasn’t as super-good as it could have been. A Cryptic-made NWN Online is hugely appealing, though, especially given how adept that lot are at character creators. Gah. The Right Thing vs The Fun Thing, the age old conflict….

All this via Eurogamer, incidentally.

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