The makers of Star Citizen have declared that the lawsuit against them by CryEngine makers Crytek “sacrifices legal sufficiency for loud publicity”, and asked the court to dismiss it. Crytek have claimed that Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) broke the contract under which they licensed CryEngine to build their space sim upon. CIG say these claims are tosh, mostly disproved by a simple look at the agreement – a text they claim Crytek had concealed from the court, and so have shared themselves. I prefer my legal drama to have jokes, songs, and closing arguments to the jury which are actually a metaphor for their failed marriage with the opposing lawyer who–oh god!–they’ve only just realised they never stopped loving, but let’s get stuck in.
In December 2017, Crytek went after Cloud Imperium Games, claiming they had breached their contract in several ways and seeking damages (money, obvs). Last week, as documents dug up by Reddit user ‘Liudeius’ show, Cloud Imperium’s lawyers responded with a motion to dismiss the suit. They say nope, it’s nonsense, though of course they would. Let’s go over some claims and responses.
Crytek claim that CIG agreed “to use the CryEngine game development platform exclusively and to promote that platform within the video game”, using no other game engine and slathering those CryEngine logos and trademark notices all over. They say that they gave CryEngine to CIG at “a below-market license rate” because Star Citizen would be promoting it in this way. But CIG have since switched to the Amazon Lumberyard engine (which is built upon, but separate from, CryEngine) and simultaneously stopped using those CryEngine logos. Crytek say that’s bang out, that CIG were required to exclusively use CryEngine and never any other engine, so they’ve been wronged.
In response, CIG claim that the agreement gave them “an exclusive right, not a duty” to use CryEngine. They say Crytek are trying to bend “exclusively” in an unusual direction, away from the usual licensing meaning of only them getting to use it. CIG shared the agreement, which says Crytek give CIG a license “to exclusively embed CryEngine in the Game and develop the Game which right shall be sub-licensable [to subcontracted devs if Crytek approve]”. Taking that to mean a duty to use CryEngine and only CryEngine would seem a stretch. As for stopping using logos and whatnot, they say, well, they weren’t using CryEngine anymore so…
Crytek also say that their agreement only covered Star Citizen itself, not the story campaign spin-off Squadron 42. The two were once halves of a whole, see, but now the plan is to sell Squadron 42 as standalone too. Crytek object.
In response, CIG point out that the agreement states it covers “the game currently entitled ‘Space Citizen’ and its related space fighter game ‘Squadron 42′”. Ah.
CIG don’t fully respond to all of Crytek’s claims, mind. They say that the agreement itself dismisses most claims and the others are null because they’re not using CryEngine anymore, but a few points perhaps still stand.
Crytek said that CIG agreed “to take a number of steps to ensure that Crytek’s intellectual property was protected” then revealed snippets of confidential CryEngine information during their ‘Bugsmashers’ video series, which has shown devs tinkering in the code. Crytek also claim that CIG “did not make a good faith effort” to follow through on the agreement’s requirement to share any optimisations and bug fixes they might make to CryEngine source code, though the scale of this isn’t clear.
Not that any of us get to decide who wins. All of this is bound in enough legalese to keep two lawyers arguing long enough to share lingering glances across the court room, remember how much they used to admire their opponent’s fire, bump into each other at the coffee machine and remember the warm touch of their hand, then–case be damned!–elope to Las Vegas to remarry. The case is in front of a Californian court, and Crytek are pushing for a jury trial.
Star Citizen is still in development, recently releasing Alpha 3.0.0. It’s raised $176,338,769 in crowdfunding so far, offering pre-orders, early access, and in-game items including spaceships, money, and plots of land.