Interplay v. Bethesda Court Transcript Revealed

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Interplay v. Bethesda Court Transcript Revealed


Duck and Cover has posted a partial transcript of the preliminary injunction hearing in which Fallout Trilogy [http://www.bethsoft.com] and continuing work on the Fallout MMOG.

Yes, it's old news: The court denied Bethesda's request for a preliminary injunction against Interplay back in mid-December. But the transcript provides an interesting look at the courtroom drama taking place between the past and present Fallout masters.

Mr. Marbury, representing Bethesda, claimed that because Interplay has not begun "full scale development" of the Fallout-based MMOG, it is in breach of contract and thus, I gather, violating Bethesda's trademark by continuing to promote the game. "It's pretty clear that there's been no full scale development at any time by this company, or by Masthead [http://www.mastheadstudios.com/]. This company has seven employees right now. They can't do it, and it appears that the Bulgarian company, who is already busy with another game, isn't doing it," he said. "So, with those two conditions not met, those rights automatically are exterminated, or terminated, and that's what the parties agreed to. So that's the trademark license agreement issue on the MMO."

The judge questioned the need for the preliminary injunction in the first place, however, when according to Marbury himself, Interplay can't do and isn't doing what Bethesda wants it not to do. "In terms of preliminary injunctive relief on that, if they're not doing it and they don't have the financing, what is it that you need in terms of preliminary injunctive relief?" he asked. "They haven't put it up on the web. I mean, this is where the two sort of blur. They took it down. They're not advertising to anybody that they're developing it. What is it you need them to stop immediately, as opposed to once you prevail?"

Interplay's man Mr. Gersh, meanwhile, took the position that until the court decides that the contract between Interplay and Bethesda has been breached - which he denied - there could be no trademark infringement. "The first thing that you have to decide is has there been a breach of contract, and I still think that it's a subject matter jurisdiction. I'd still ask the Court to consider it, even though you're not going to do it this morning, because I believe that the cart has been put before the horse here," he said. "Until you decide whether there's been a breach of contract, which is more a state law issue in the cases that we raised, you can't get to whether there has been trademark infringement."

Also noteworthy is Marbury's claim that Bethesda is not currently working on a Fallout-based MMOG itself because it's waiting for the court to finalize the question of rights to the property. "But to the extent that the rights have been terminated, we would have an interest in developing it at some point and in order to do that we need clarity about what the rights are and what they're not," he added.

It's a bit dry, all in all; there's no duckandcover.cx [http://nbc.com/Law_and_Order].



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ffxfriek

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The transcripts are very interesting and i hear the law and order theme in my head too
 

Axolotl

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Silly Bethesda getting in a dickwaving competition with Interplay.

I can see why they switched lawyers.
 

Jared

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ffxfriek said:
The transcripts are very interesting and i hear the law and order theme in my head too
Same, lol. Although, reading it through. Looks intresting to be sure
 

Rainboq

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well it sucks that they aren't gonna finish the Fallout MMO, but hey, there might be a Fallout 4 on the way!
 

Dommyboy

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If it's in the gameplay and design of the originals, I'll take it, whoever it's by. As much as I would like an online Oblivion With Guns, or Oblivion With Guns 2, Bethesda should really take the game back to its original design.
 

Low Key

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I don't know why Bethesda licensed the MMO back to Interplay in the first place. It was clear with the sale of the Fallout IP for a mere $6 million that the company was going nowhere. And Interplay is still in same debt from before they shut down Black Isle Studios over 6 years ago.

From the very start, this move was poorly thought out and has made Bethesda seem like assholes when, in their perspective I'm sure, they were just trying to help out a dying company.
 

Low Key

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Dommyboy said:
If it's in the gameplay and design of the originals, I'll take it, whoever it's by. As much as I would like an online Oblivion With Guns, or Oblivion With Guns 2, Bethesda should really take the game back to its original design.
But that's why Interplay had to sell all of their IPs in the first place. The games may have been great, but no one bought them. Fallout 3 on the other hand sold truckloads.
 

Dommyboy

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Low Key said:
Dommyboy said:
If it's in the gameplay and design of the originals, I'll take it, whoever it's by. As much as I would like an online Oblivion With Guns, or Oblivion With Guns 2, Bethesda should really take the game back to its original design.
But that's why Interplay had to sell all of their IPs in the first place. The games may have been great, but no one bought them. Fallout 3 on the other hand sold truckloads.
Fallout was actually quite unknown in the 90s, it was never advertised as well as other games had been. Along with the game being released with many bugs, they were fixed eventually with patches, but as many people had experienced the original with so many glitches, it was found to be a horrid experience. So, that's hardly fair in comparison to Fallout 3.

Fallout 3 though had a larger team working on it, and was publicized far more. Personally I prefer Interplays Fallout because of how unique it is, and Fallout 3 just felt like the previous Elder Scrolls games too much.
 

Ausir

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Fallout 1 and 2 were and still are actually selling pretty well. It's silly to compare their sales to Oblivion or Fallout 3, but if you compare them to Bethesda's game from the same period, Daggerfall, I'm pretty sure that Fallout sold (and still sells) better.

What actually buried Interplay was a series of bad business decisions, especially involving releasing cheap, crappy console games like Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.
 

Low Key

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Dommyboy said:
Low Key said:
Dommyboy said:
If it's in the gameplay and design of the originals, I'll take it, whoever it's by. As much as I would like an online Oblivion With Guns, or Oblivion With Guns 2, Bethesda should really take the game back to its original design.
But that's why Interplay had to sell all of their IPs in the first place. The games may have been great, but no one bought them. Fallout 3 on the other hand sold truckloads.
Fallout was actually quite unknown in the 90s, it was never advertised as well as other games had been. Along with the game being released with many bugs, they were fixed eventually with patches, but as many people had experienced the original with so many glitches, it was found to be a horrid experience. So, that's hardly fair in comparison to Fallout 3.

Fallout 3 though had a larger team working on it, and was publicized far more. Personally I prefer Interplays Fallout because of how unique it is, and Fallout 3 just felt like the previous Elder Scrolls games too much.
[sub]Fallout was named #4 on the list of top games of all time produced by PC Gamer in 2001. It was named #5 on the IGN list of the top 25 PC games of all time in 2007,[15] and #19 in 2009.[14] It also was awarded "RPG of the Year" by GameSpot, and has since been inducted into their "Greatest Games of All Time" list.[18] Fallout was named #55 on IGN's 2005 top 100 games of all time,[17] and #33 in 2007.[16] It is notable that all review scores for Fallout are consistently high and none are lower than an eight (out of a maximum of ten), with the only criticism involving its graphics.[/sub] [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallout_(video_game)#Reception]

The game was very well received, glitches or not. It's just that no one bought it, which correlates with Interplay's $70 million debt in 2003 and why they had to dump all of their IPs. I do know what I am talking about.

Besides, Fallout 3 is glitchy as hell too despite it's praise. I have had my 360 freeze no less than 10 times while playing it and I just got the game 2 weeks ago. It's just that people want first/third person views with sandbox elements. Not top down, turn based RPGs.
 

CezarIgnat

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Dommyboy said:
Low Key said:
Dommyboy said:
If it's in the gameplay and design of the originals, I'll take it, whoever it's by. As much as I would like an online Oblivion With Guns, or Oblivion With Guns 2, Bethesda should really take the game back to its original design.
But that's why Interplay had to sell all of their IPs in the first place. The games may have been great, but no one bought them. Fallout 3 on the other hand sold truckloads.
Fallout was actually quite unknown in the 90s, it was never advertised as well as other games had been. Along with the game being released with many bugs, they were fixed eventually with patches, but as many people had experienced the original with so many glitches, it was found to be a horrid experience. So, that's hardly fair in comparison to Fallout 3.

Fallout 3 though had a larger team working on it, and was publicized far more. Personally I prefer Interplays Fallout because of how unique it is, and Fallout 3 just felt like the previous Elder Scrolls games too much.
You're right about Interplay having a smaller team, but that doesn't mean it's Bethesda's fault for having more money and wanting to hire more developers and artists for the game and more money for advertising(this is part of the game creation process). Having more money shouldn't be something bad, they did work for it...

It's true, maybe the first Fallouts were fixed with patches and stuff, but it's annoying to pay for something, only to have to wait for a fix. After you give a lot of money (maybe it's not a lot for everyone, but some people don't have such a big financial status or their country's economy might be different) you expect that thing you bought to work. Sure...there's a fix later, but some people might be too disappointed at the beginning to care anymore (first impression is also important).

On Topic: I think Bethesda has every right to defend their purchase. They did pay a lot for it, and with the current economy, that's something. Maybe some think they ruined the game (IMO they didn't) but still...they did purchase it...older fans might have hated it = less sales. Again, it's not their fault that Interplay needed the money and to be honest...Fallout Trilogy does sound more like 1,2,3 than anything else.

I don't think I'd enjoy a Fallout MMO. At least not in the style of Fallout 3...too much lag for me surely.
 

Ausir

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The game was very well received, glitches or not. It's just that no one bought it, which correlates with Interplay's $70 million debt in 2003 and why they had to dump all of their IPs. I do know what I am talking about.
The statement that "no one bought it" is untrue. Fallout was not a huge hit, but it was a commercial success. It's bad, quickly churned out games like Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, which sold only 17,000 copies, that buried the company, not games like Fallout 1 and 2. Fallout being a commercial failure is a myth that is surprisingly prevalent and utterly untrue.

Interplay's financial problems did not begin until years after Fallout.

It's just that people want first/third person views with sandbox elements. Not top down, turn based RPGs.
Dragon Age is not strictly turn-based, but it has a top-down mode (for me pretty much essential in combat, especially on higher difficulties) and a highly tactical real-time-with-pause quasi-turn-based system. And sold pretty damn well.
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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Fallout 3 was good, not nice or fantastic, but good. Sure it was basically Oblivion with guns and Super Mutants instead of Ogres. If it were an RPG it played like a bad FPS, if it were a FPS it played like a bad RPG.

Seems theres something to be said for "traditional" RPG formats. Worked for Dragon Age.
 

brunothepig

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I did, and still do, love Fallout 3, but I think it was a bit broken. It was hard to tell if it was trying to emphasise the FPS aspect or the RPG aspect. Borderlands is one of the few games that managed to blend FPS with RPG almost seamlessly, at least for me. There's an emphasis on the FPS, but the stats and skill system actually works quite well. And despite auto level, you still feel like you're getting more powerful, unlike Oblivion, where I've gone up about 20 levels without noticing a difference... Anyway, I would love to see a Fallout MMO, so hopefully these silly companies with their childish lawsuits don't destroy it completely.
 

Ausir

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Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. Today's (Herve Caen's) Interplay doesn't have much in common with the old (Brian Fargo's) Interplay, aside from Chris Taylor, one of the makers of Fallout, working there on Fallout Online.

As for brining Black Isle together, Obsidian (which is now working on Fallout: New Vegas) is as close as you can get to that nowadays.
 

Low Key

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Ausir said:
The game was very well received, glitches or not. It's just that no one bought it, which correlates with Interplay's $70 million debt in 2003 and why they had to dump all of their IPs. I do know what I am talking about.
The statement that "no one bought it" is untrue. Fallout was not a huge hit, but it was a commercial success. It's bad, quickly churned out games like Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, which sold only 17,000 copies, that buried the company, not games like Fallout 1 and 2. Fallout being a commercial failure is a myth that is surprisingly prevalent and utterly untrue.

Interplay's financial problems did not begin until years after Fallout.

It's just that people want first/third person views with sandbox elements. Not top down, turn based RPGs.
Dragon Age is not strictly turn-based, but it has a top-down mode (for me pretty much essential in combat, especially on higher difficulties) and a highly tactical real-time-with-pause quasi-turn-based system. And sold pretty damn well.
If one game ruined their company, then I am truly dumbfounded. They have to be the most idiotic people on the face of the planet and don't deserve to be in the video game development business.

But, just to reiterate my point, lets take a look at the downfall of Interplay. Reports indicate [http://www.gamespot.com/news/6176709.html] that in 2001 they were $59 million in debt, and it's only logical to assume that the $59 million didn't accumulate in a short time span (from one game for instance, especially one that wouldn't be released for another 3 years). Considering the original Fallout was released in 1997 and Fallout 2 was released in 1999, I'd have to say a great deal of debt was created as a result, more than likely due to low game sales.

So would you like to accept I know what I'm talking about or would you still like to tell me I'm wrong and keep arguing? If you choose the latter I must warn you, I am probably way more stubborn than anyone you know.