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Saber Interactive files defamation claim against Spintires publisher Oovee

It's the latest move in a battle over the rights to Spintires and revenue relating to its sequels.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

June 22, 2022

2 Min Read
A screenshot from Spintires spin-off Mudrunner

Two companies are going to war over the rights to off-road driving simulator Spintires and revenue relating to its spin-off sequels Mudrunner and Snowrunner.

As reported by Eurogamer, the game's original publisher Oovee has reignited its feud with Saber Interactive, the employer of Spintires developer Pavel Zagrebelnyy, after issuing a press release through a legal firm containing numerous allegations against Saber. In response, Saber has filed a defamation claim against Oovee.

The on-off skirmish has been brewing for the best part of a decade, and has bubbled into a fairly high-profile case after Spintires and its spin-offs gradually found success.

For context, Spintires was developed by Saber coder Pavel Zagrebelnyy and launched in 2014. Oovee was brought on by Zagrebelnyy to publish the title, which netted the company millions in sales, while Saber was then asked to work on console versions of the original games and its two sequels (with help from Zagrebelnyy).

According to a previous report from Eurogamer published in 2016, the relationship between Oovee and Zagrebelnyy became strained years ago due to complaints from both parties relating to a lack of pay and overdue work.

Despite those issues, Oovee and Zagrebelnyy seemed to bury the hatchet and continue developing the franchise -- although that apparent truce fell apart in 2018 when the situation again turned toxic.

From that point on, it seems the key issue relates to an agreement struck in August 2016 that named Oovee as the Spintires rights owner, but acknowledged that Saber would be permitted to make "improvements and enhancements" under license.

That deal resulted in Saber becoming heavily involved in the franchise, and releasing those aforementioned spin-off sequels.

As a result of that deal, Oovee is now claiming it's owed 25 percent of the royalties from Mudrunner and Snowrunner, but Saber has pushed back by reminding the publisher that Spintires was developed by a Saber employee using Saber code.

Oovee CEO claims the company has lost "millions" in sales as a result of various DMCA challenges (although it's unclear if they're related to the dispute), while Saber claims Zagrebelnyy has still only received less than half of what he's owed from the publisher.

Since Spintires launched in June 2014, the title remains the only project in Oovee's publishing portfolio, while Saber went on to work on notable franchises including Halo and was acquired by Embracer Group in 2020.

At the time of wriitng, it's unclear when or how the long-running dispute will be resolved. For more on the protracted legal saga, check out Eurogamer's full report

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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