South Park Studios Fights THQ Over Sale of The Stick of Truth

WMDogma

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South Park Studios Fights THQ Over Sale of The Stick of Truth



"Oh my God! They might have killed the South Park RPG!"

Things continue to get complicated for floundering game publisher THQ, as South Park Studios has filed a court objection to forbid the sale of South Park: The Stick of Truth unless THQ meets several conditions during its upcoming bankruptcy hearings.

South Park Studio, which owns the license to the animated series, first filed the objection on January 18th [http://www.thesangreal.net/gafpics/sps_object.pdf], stating that it had first entered into an agreement in June of 2011 with THQ regarding the use of South Park in the upcoming Stick of Truth RPG. This agreement, referred to as the "Deal Memo", apparently forbids THQ from handing off the game or its South Park license to another company unless South Park Studio consents to such an arrangement. In addition, the Deal Memo also allows South Park Studio to repurchase "all elements of the South Park game and related products" provided it pays THQ an amount equal to whatever funding and costs it accrued while developing the title.

The objection itself asks the court to prohibit The Stick of Truth's release unless South Park Studio is allowed to consent to any transfer of the South Park license it originally granted THQ on top of both $2.275 million dollars and "adequate assurance of future performance" for the game.

THQ submitted a reply on January 21st [http://www.thesangreal.net/gafpics/thq_sps_response.pdf] to South Park Studio's allegations, arguing that the license in question is eligible for sale under the Copyright Act of 1976, but is currently reviewing whether or not South Park studios has any valid claim to monetary compensation.

South Park: The Stick of Truth is currently scheduled to release on March 5th of 2013 on multiple platforms, although with THQ's ongoing financial issues and South Park Studios' lawsuit, that seems very likely to change.

Source: Polygon [http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/22/3903622/south-park-studios-objects-thq-stick-of-truth-sale]

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Mr.Mattress

Level 2 Lumberjack
Jul 17, 2009
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That makes me a sad panda... Hopefully the South Park guys are able to find a studio they like. Otherwise, this may be the end, of South Park...
 

PunkRex

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Feb 19, 2010
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Aaaaaaaaw, I was really curious about this one. It may have just been a bunch of references to the show but the last Southpark game (The tower defence one) had me in stitchs.
 

The Artificially Prolonged

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Jul 15, 2008
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Where does this leave Obsidian? Will they have to hand over the work they've done already or will South Park Studios find another publisher and keep Obsidian on board? These guys seem to have no luck it comes to publishers, I hope there is no serious knock on effects for them if the game doesn't go on sale.
 

Hazzard

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What does South Park studios get out of this? Because surely they want the game to be released and then their brand gets attention and people might watch their show a bit more.
 

DiamanteGeeza

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PunkRex said:
Aaaaaaaaw, I was really curious about this one. It may have just been a bunch of references to the show but the last Southpark game (The tower defence one) had me in stitchs.
I played it about 5-6 months ago and it was awesome. Very funny, played well, lots of nods to the show, and really has that South Park feel to it. You can tell Matt and Trey had a considerable involvement in the writing.

It will be a real shame if this doesn't see the light of day because of legal reasons.
 
Sep 14, 2009
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Tohuvabohu said:


This was one of my most anticipated releases this year :( I hope everything works out in favor for this games release.[/QUOTE]

yup same, i'm really intrigued to get my hands on it, even if it's a game that gets only one runthrough (obviously humor and whatnot can only go so far on replayability)
 

Yopaz

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Jun 3, 2009
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Man, this has me a little bummed out. Hopefully the game will be released, I was looking forward to it.
 

Jhereg42

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Poor Obsidian. I swear they have the worst luck. Missing out on the Fallout bonus from Bethesda by one point, now this.

I hope this ends up ok for them.
 

Covarr

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May 29, 2009
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How about an analogy:

Johnny has a secret. Suzie wants to hear it. Johnny agrees to tell her if she promises not to tell anyone else (verbal contract). Then, she goes and tells other people anyway, citing the first amendment. Is she wrong? Obviously.

This is obviously just from an ethical perspective, not a legal one, but THQ doesn't seem to be doing themselves any favors. That said, I wonder what exactly the deal memo said, what rights it grants, and whether its clear if this is an exclusive license or not. I'm not a lawyer, but I've been doing a bit of research and read both PDFs. From what I can gather, exclusive licenses can be transferred, resold, sub-licensed, etc... Essentially, they grant almost the same rights that the original copyright holder owns, and the copyright holder cannot make more licenses with additional parties. Non-exclusive licenses, on the other hand, allow the property to be used as specified in the contract, but are generally far-more limiting to the licensee and the copyright holder retains more rights. To know for sure which it is, I'd need to see the text of the deal memo.

But based on THQ's wording, it seems like they're trying to screw around with the word "exclusive", saying that it must be exclusive simply because South Park Studios didn't give the license to anyone else. They quote part of the deal memo in their objection, but it's blanked out, so I have no clue how much of a difference that bit actually makes, let alone whose side it supports. Based only on what's publicly available, though, it seems as though THQ is trying to assert rights they don't have.

P.S. Thanks
 

KeyMaster45

Gone Gonzo
Jun 16, 2008
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Blablahb said:
Hazzard said:
What does South Park studios get out of this? Because surely they want the game to be released and then their brand gets attention and people might watch their show a bit more.
Basically they're trying to extort THQ some money before it blows up.

And if the court has a brain they'll deny that, because favouring one debtor heavily just before a bankruptcy or when one is close is considered a bad practise.
Hardly, Matt and Trey are more than likely worried the game will get handed off to some crappy third party dev that shills out crappy third party games like fortune cookies. They've already stated before that they didn't want this game to be like the one for the N64; and that's likely why they have it in their licensing contract with THQ that the project can't be shirked to another studio unless they say so, or THQ sells the game IP back to them so they can make sure the integrity of the product is preserved.

Remember, Matt and Trey approached THQ and Obsidian not the other way around. That the contract says they'll reimburse THQ for any money spent developing the project just to pry the damn thing from the death grip is hardly extortion.
 

Soviet Heavy

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Jan 22, 2010
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wombat_of_war said:
ouch this could seriously hurt obsidian as well if it doesnt go on sale
It probably won't hurt them that much. Obsidian are a mercenary developer. They get paid up front for what they do, rather than surviving based on the success of the game's launch. So if a title fails, they are safe since they aren't tied down to a publisher.

This also means that they don't make as much money, but it ensures that a flop doesn't kill them.
 

Lunar Templar

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Sep 20, 2009
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so ... South Park Studio's are just as big of dicks as the cast in their stupid little show? good to know.
 

Reaper195

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Jul 5, 2009
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I'll just sit on the corner and hope the game comes out in March. Was really hoping this game wasn't going to have any problems, since it seems like the most unique game coming out without being an indie game (Which try to thrive on their uniqueness...except a lot of indie games end up being focused on a single mechanic and end up being disgustingly not fun).
 

chozo_hybrid

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Jul 15, 2009
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Yopaz said:
Man, this has me a little bummed out. Hopefully the game will be released, I was looking forward to it.
Same here, it was my most anticipated title for this year, as far as I recall.