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Interplay surrenders Fallout MMO rights back to Bethesda

As part of an out-of-court settlement, Fallout series creator Interplay has given up all rights to an MMO spin-off it claimed to be developing, giving Bethesda complete control over the IP.

Frank Cifaldi, Contributor

January 9, 2012

2 Min Read

As part of an out-of-court settlement, Fallout series creator Interplay has given up all rights to an MMO spin-off it claimed to be developing to current series owner Bethesda. The decision marks the final step in Bethesda's complete takeover of all new products in the Fallout franchise, and provides the troubled Interplay some much-needed capital. According to statements released by Bethesda on Monday, Interplay surrendered those rights in exchange for $2 million received from Bethesda parent ZeniMax. Both parties will pick up the tab for their respective legal fees, which were undisclosed. At this point, Interplay's only involvement with the post-apocalyptic RPG series it created is its continued sale of the first three games in the franchise: Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout: Tactics. It will retain the rights to continue selling the games through December 31, 2013, at which point they too will be surrendered to Bethesda. The dispute stems from the original Fallout acquisition agreement between the two companies in 2007, which saw new owner Bethesda agreeing to allow Interplay to develop an MMO in the series under certain criteria, namely that Interplay secure $30 million in financing and show that the game was under full scale development by April 2009. While Interplay continuously claimed that the game was under full development by contractor Masthead Studios, Bethesda claimed otherwise. Because the suit was resolved out-of-court, no formal judgement was made as to whether Interplay held up its end of the deal. Bethesda also settled a separate dispute with Masthead itself, where it claimed that the game it was allegedly developing represented copyright infringement and a violation of its IP rights. Masthead now acknowledges that it has no legal right to use any Fallout IP. No settlement money was awarded to either party. "While we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims to the Fallout IP," said ZeniMax chairman and CEO Robert Altman. "Fallout is an important property of ZeniMax and we are now able to develop future Fallout titles for our fans without third party involvement or the overhang of others' legal claims." Bethesda has published both 2008's Fallout 3 and 2010's Fallout: New Vegas. No future titles in the franchise have been formally announced.

About the Author(s)

Frank Cifaldi


Frank Cifaldi is a freelance writer and contributing news editor at Gamasutra. His past credentials include being senior editor at 1UP.com, editorial director and community manager for Turner Broadcasting's GameTap games-on-demand service, and a contributing author to publications that include Edge, Wired, Nintendo Official Magazine UK and GamesIndustry.biz, among others. He can be reached at [email protected].

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