Financial papers from Interplay suggest that Bethesda might sue the struggling publisher over its planned Fallout MMO.
Interplay retained the rights to make online games based on Fallout when it sold the rest of the rights to Bethesda back in 2004. However, it seems there were certain conditions involved in this - conditions which Bethesda claims have not been met.
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing (spotted by Fallout fansite No Mutants Allowed), Bethesda reckons Interplay is in breach of their agreement because it had not commenced "full scale development" of the Fallout MMO by April 4 2009, and has not secured enough funding for the game. Interplay, naturally, disagrees.
"Interplay recently received notice that Bethesda Softworks, LLC ("Bethesda") intends to terminate the trademark license agreement between Bethesda and Interplay which was entered into April 4, 2007 for the development of Fallout MMOG," reads the filing.
"Despite the fact that no formal action is currently pending, Bethesda claims that Interplay is in breach of the trademark license agreement for failure to commence full scale development of same by April 4, 2009 and to secure certain funding for the MMOG. Interplay adamantly disputes these claims... If Bethesda ultimately prevails and cancels the trademark license agreement, Interplay would lose its license back of the Fallout MMOG."
Interplay has repeatedly said that it intends to exploit its licence to make a massively multiplayer Fallout, and has also made announcements about the development of a thinly-disguised MMO called Project V13, believed by all and sundry to be the Fallout game.
The last of these announcements was that Bulgarian studio Masthead, currently making its own post-apocalyptic MMO called Earthrise, had been enlisted to help with Project V13. This announcement was made on 2nd April, interesting timing in the light of the 4th April deadline mentioned above.
Fallout co-creator Jason Anderson recently left work on Project V13 for inXile, saying, ""The future of the - well, I don't know if I want to go there. [inXile] was a more stable opportunity."
Will Masthead's eleventh-hour involvement be enough to save Interplay's dream of creating of a Fallout MMO? If it can reclaim the rights, will Bethesda begin development of one itself? It's too early to tell. But money talks, and between Bethesda and Interplay, there's little doubt who can talk loudest.