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Bethesda Own All Rights To A Fallout MMO

He stares at a future that will never be.

You may remember that last week we brought the news that the legal fusspottery over the ownership of the rights to make a Fallout MMO had come to an end. We just didn’t know which way the nuclear chips had fallen. It seems things fell in Bethesda’s favour, in a fight that now looks rather like Goliath squished David with his fist. Eurogamer are reporting that Interplay have completely lost any rights to make a Fallout MMO, with intellectual property rights entirely belonging to Bethesda. However, there’s a sizable fee of $2 million heading Interplay’s way from Bethesda owners Zenimax, as part of the deal.

So it seems like something of a compromise, although it’ll probably be a while before we hear any bitter truths. Interplay can carry on selling Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics until December 2013, after which – mysteriously – the games created by Interplay will no longer belong to Interplay. This all came about because Interplay sold the brand to Bethesda in 2007, but were granted back the rights to develop an MMO so long as they could prove they were working on it, and raising a certain budget. These targets were not met according to Bethesda, hence the court-based fisticuffs, which seem to agree with BethSoft’s position, despite this seeming to be a settlement.

There was also a separate case against Masthead, who were supposed to be making the MMO for Interplay, whoever Interplay actually are at this stage. That’s ended with Masthead accepting they’ve no rights to the Fallout license at all.

So with Interplay getting the cash, it’s unclear what that means for them. With their apparently having failed to raise the $30m Bethedsa were requiring for the deal to be maintained, clearly $2m is small change if the beleaguered publishers were to try to salvage anything they’ve developed and release it as a rebranded property. If any such property really existed, of course.

Whether Bethesda will actually attempt to make a Fallout MMO is also unknown. As a company who’ve essentially ignored even multiplayer, it doesn’t seem their forte at all. Which probably leaves us with no Fallout MMO at all, and lots of lawyers extra-rich. Another glorious victory for the wonderful concept of intellectual property, then.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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