It wouldn’t be 2012-2018 (and who knows how much longer) without a Star Citizen controversy. Chris Robert’s mega-crowdfunded space-everything game has been subject to a great deal of scrutiny about what it’s spent its half-decade and its $173 million dollars on, but a brand new curveball is that his studios Cloud Imperium Games and Roberts Space Industries are being sued by Crysis and CryEngine makers Crytek.
Up until last year, Star Citizen was built using CryEngine, but now Crytek are arguing there’s been a breach of contract and copyright infringement. They’re after an injunction which, if successful, wouldn’t mean good things for that release date we’ve been holding out for.
Crytek, who also flog their CryEngine tech to other developers, have lawyered up partly because they claimed that Star Citizen’s bifurcation into two separately-sold titles (the other being singleplayer campaign module Squadron 42) constitutes a violation of the original single-game license. I.e. that they’re making two games when they only paid for the rights to use the engine for one.
Cloud Imperium Games and RSI, for their part, point out that they stopped using CryEngine last December, and now use Amazon’s Lumberyard engine instead. “This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against,” CIG told Gamasutra in a statement, “including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.”
However, it’s the engine-switch itself which forms part of Crytek’s complaint, with their also arguing that agreements about the use of Cryengine logos in Star Citizen promotional materials have been violated too.
Furthermore, Crytek allege that they have seen lines of on-screen code that in Star Citizen promotional development videos that suggest it is still using CryEngine in some way. These waters are only muddied further by the fact that Lumberyard itself is built around CryEngine tech.
To boot, Crytek allege that the Star Citizen folk have not fully disclosed modifications they made to CryEngine during development, as was also in the original contract.
Oof, basically. As well as damages, some but not all of which amount to $75,000, Crytek are seeking an injunction that would prevent any continued use of their code. If it did turn out (and it might well not, of course) to be the case that Star Citizen or Squadron 42 still used elements of CryEngine, we can surely expect the painstaking removal process to add a big chunk of time to its already epic development cycle.
Expect this to be long, messy and expensive.
You can read the full lawsuit, filed in a California district court, here, if you’re so inclined.