It’s a common trait of the gaming industry theses days – publishers seemingly spending more time in the courts than they do at gaming conventions. One such long-running legal wrangling is the heated Interplay Vs. Bethesda dispute regarding the Fallout IP and a possible post-apocalyptic MMO based on the popular series.
It’s quite difficult to decipher just what the actual terms of the publishing agreement are, as both camps appear to interpret the deal somewhat differently. One thing they can agree on is that Interplay sold the Fallout rights to Bethesda in 2004 for $5.75 million. A clause in the contract, however, - and this is where things gets all he-said-she-said – states that Interplay would still be allowed create a Fallout MMO.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Interplay president Eric Caen explains the situation:
We sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda in exchange for a certain amount of cash and the right to do the Fallout MMO. If they refuse to let us do the game, then the sale of the IP is terminated, and they will be allowed to do only one more Fallout, 5.
But in that case, the IP will come back to us, and of course, we will complete our work and release Fallout MMO.
The original licensing deal was for three games and their DLC. So they already did Fallout 3, then Fallout: New Vegas, and they can only do one more Fallout, 5, if the sale of the IP is cancelled by the court.
Caen confirms that Interplay have had a working Fallout MMO up and running behind closed doors since “early 2009.” Whether this satisfies the terms and conditions of the licencing deal remains to be seen.