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Star Citizen devs want Crytek's car-crash lawsuit to stop, for good

Forget dogfighting, first-person shooting and interstellar exploration. For the last few years, Star Citizen has looked increasingly like those bits in the Star Wars prequels where muppets sit on big steel dodgems to discuss trade agreements. 2020 looks to be no different, with a long-standing dispute between Cloud Imperium Games and Crysis/CryEngine-maker Crytek coming to a head once again. This month, Crytek asked for their long-fought lawsuit against Cloud Imperium to be dismissed. They’re not done with Star Citizen: rather, Crytek would prefer to take a fresh stab at the space sim at a later date. Responding on Friday, Cloud Imperium isn’t having any of it.

Crytek’s lawsuit hinges on their Game License Agreement only allowing CIG to develop one game using their proprietary CryEngine. Squadron 42 releasing separate to Star Citizen allegedly violates that agreement. For that to work, though, Crytek kinda needed Squadron 42 to be released by the time of the lawsuit trial.

Shockingly, Squadron 42’s final release is still nowhere to be seen. Crytek want their own lawsuit dismissed without prejudice or conditions, meaning they wouldn’t have to pay any of CIG’s legal fees. Once Squadron 42 has a final release date, they’ll give the whole thing another shot.

Cloud Imperium, for their part, have been asking for Crytek’s suit to be dismissed, with prejudice, for years – and they’d like their fees back, thank you very much. Filed on January 17th, (cheers, Eurogamer), the developer’s court response is scathing, blasting Crytek’s call for dismissal as “attention-seeking”, and contains this absolute corker of a paragraph.

“Crytek should not be allowed to aim its car at CIG’s storefront window, stomp the accelerator, smash through, do doughnuts for years, then back out and drive away to maybe circle around and crash CIG again another day. Crytek richly deserves having its keys taken away for all time, so that CIG can conduct responsible business without further interference from Crytek or its series of lawyers.”

Oof.

CIG also dispute that their original agreement only allowed for one game, particularly given Squadron 42 will be accessed from the same launcher as the rest of Star Citizen. That’s almost besides the point for CIG, though. Crytek’s initial suit was filed after the devs made an engine switch to Amazon Lumberyard, and CIG finds the suit “meritless in light of CIG’s separate licence with Amazon”.

The court doc claims that Crytek knew this, and “sheepishly and belatedly emailed Amazon to ask if it had truly granted CIG a license covering prior versions of CryEngine”, admitting that a yes from the house of Bezos would “likely tank its [Squadron 42] claim”. The Star Citizen devs claim they’ve paid roughly $900,000 in attorney’s fees and costs at this point, and are asking for $500,000 of that back as part of the dismissal. CryEngine has until February 7th to respond.

Expect any response to be equally inflammatory – I reckon we’re far from hearing the final word on this dispute.

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Natalie Clayton

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