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Fallout Fallingout: Bethesda Sues Interplay

This broke on Friday, but RPS were dividing and conquering across the world, requiring Kadayi - cheers! - to bring it to our attention. In short, Gamasutra reports that the coldness between Interplay (Original Fallout IP holders) and Bethesda (Purchaser of the Fallout IP) has crossed into an actual legal suit. However, it isn't about the MMO situation, as described in the link. It's to prevent any further distribution of the compilation Fallout Trilogy's sales via Digital Download companies causing "immediate, substantial, and irreparable harm". Do read the whole thing, and a little industry thought below...

I actually don't really believe this is primarily about selling the older games. This is a high-level tactical battle between companies, with one trying to secure rights. The fact that - according to Bethesda - that they didn't actually get their approval for packaging, advertising and promotional material means that Interplay are in breach of contract. This will be a step towards them acquiring the MMO rights back.

(Bethesda bought the IP, then leased the rights for the MMO back to Interplay. Seriously, go read the full story)

In other words, as pure business, this strikes me as a pretty smart.

As a developer of Fallout games, this is openly outrageous.

I'm not even someone who is particularly devoted to the original games, and I'm outraged. Bethesda's buying of the rights was controversial, but the developers have constantly said how big fans they were of the original games. To my mind, the case counters that. This case simply says the company believes that anyone having access to those games would confuse and devalue the brand - because they're using the original art which hasn't been through Bethesda's hand. At the best, it says they're of historical interest, but pretty much should be kept in museums. Fundamentally, they'd rather people not have the chance to play Fallout at all if it's not in a Bethesda-approved box.

Obviously, this almost certainly came from the business side, but it's put everyone on the Fallout 3 team in an enormously difficult position, no matter what the reason. The next time they talk about how much they like Fallout, someone is going to say "You like it so much that you stop people from buying and playing it?". Because answering "That wasn't about the game - that was about the logos" implies that you care far more about the logos than the actual games themselves. And what gamer would argue that?

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