‘Bethesda Can Only Make One More Fallout’ – Interplay

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.

Source: Eurogamer

20 Comments

  1. Can’t everybody be friends and release both? I’m happy to have more fallout games either way, bugs or no bugs

    • I was just about to say that! Why are they so childish?! If it turns out that 1 more fallout game can be released, I hope it ends on a bang!

      • The ownership of intellectual property is not childish. Let’s say, just as a random example, you were to create a webcomic. Then let’s say another artist swoops in and uses your characters and makes a mint. Are you peeved yet?

        Let’s say he goes on to become wildly popular and wins awards for what many people perceive as “his” creation. Miffed a bit?

        Now he’s won a Webby.

        Now people are posting on YOUR site calling you a copy-cat and “scum of the earth” for aping something YOU created.

        This is an extreme example but I’m using it to explain something very, very important. In the domain of creative media, there are legal rights – and they’re there for a reason.

        Interplay sold the rights to Bethesda and Bethesda have made a fortune on the IP. However, Interplay are claiming they STILL have the right to create the MMO. But they should! Surely! More great games! Right?

        Now imagine you’re Bethesda. You entered into a deal in good faith and paid nearly 6 MILLION dollars for the right to create games that may or may not have been successful.

        Let’s say Fallout 3 was rubbish. Low scores and terrible sales. Bethesda would then be stuck with an expensive IP that was now next to worthless. Luckily for Bethesda it didn’t go that way. But it could have. They committed to the project with a massive financial investment. They have the right to protect that investment. And Interplay have the right to claim “That’s not what we agreed. That’s NOT the terms we signed up for.” Hence, the only place this can be settled is in a court of law, where learned IP lawyers will scour over the contract, they’ll put their case to a judge who will then decide who’s “right.”

        This is the gaming INDUSTRY. It’s a business. We don’t live in a world where people get to do whatever the hell they please just because they should be able to create games for me and you.

        And I, for one, am thankful we don’t live in such a crazy world.

      • I understand the legal and moral rights. I’m just selfish and would like both games, preferably now

  2. Oh goodie, more court cases.

  3. This confuses me. Why would a company sell an IP if they still had ideas about any sort of game in the future? Interplay make this sound like the contract was to sell them all the rights, but leave them the right to make an MMO, then they make it sound as if the refusal to do an MMO voids the contract, then they make it sound like the contract was only for three games anway. Something doesn’t feel right at all here.

    • Bethesda licenced the IP back to Interplay for the MMO. Allegedly. Maybe. Definitely not. Yes, that’s right. Actually, no. No way, hosé. Written in stone. In your dreams.

      • oh right, that clears everything up, absolutely, maybe, a bit, no!

  4. So either way, Interplay make the MMO?
    Surely it makes more sense to keep them on side by letting them release it, rather than annoying them by saying no, losing the rights to the IP & then Interplay releasing it anyway? Or have I missed the point here?

    • Bethesda is trying to block Interplay’s MMO. Hence, TO COURT!

      • Seems daft, surely releasing an MMO is only going to increase the brand share of Fallout and benefit Bethesda?

      • Ah, but what i mean is according to the quote, if Bethesda don’t let Interplay do the MMO, they have broken the terms of agreement & therefore the IP goes back to Interplay (after Bethesda release the last game). Then Interplay release the MMO anyway?
        If that is the case, why not keep Interply ‘on side’ & just let them release the MMO with the hope of keeping the IP?

      • Bethesda would not benefit from Interplay producing their own MMO. Your point about “keeping them onside” so they keep the IP is moot as Bethesda are claiming they own the IP in perpetuity. If they go to court and a judge rules:

        “Bethesda own the IP. Period. Interplay are not allowed release the MMO. Bethesda can make Fallout 14 for all I care”

        There’s no need to keep in Interplay’s good books.

      • That makes sense.

        The judge ought to stipulate that they clear out the game breaking bugs by the time Fallout 14 comes around if Bethesda win mind.

      • Ah fair enough.
        Just got a bit confused by the fact that Caen seems to believe that it was written in the contract that they could still do the MMO.
        Actually, maybe it’s him that’s confused? Only time will tell i guess.

      • That’s exactly the issue, and maybe I wasn’t clear enough on that point. Caen has one interpretation of the contract, Bethesda another.

        Of course, Caen is so confident that his studio have sank a lot of money into a game they may be forced to scrap. So, read into that what you will.

      • To make things more complicated, Bethseda say they only licensed the name “Fallout” to Interplay. They did not license them to use vaults, VATS, wastelands, Pipboys, The Brotherhood Of Steel or anything else remotely connected to the Fallout universe.

  5. well i really don’t mind. i don’t want fallout becoming another cash cow. i’m sure the developers can find something new to do

  6. politics!!!

  7. Screw Fallout.
    I’m only buying Elder Scrolls games from them now.

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