Bohemia Interactive has instructed lawyers to protest directly to Codemasters about its "marketing tactics" for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.
In an extraordinary press release, the Czech-based developer of the original Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis slammed Codemasters for referring to its game as the "official sequel" when it says it owns the rights to the original game's content and Codemasters only owns the name.
"Is the upcoming Codemasters game really 'the much anticipated return of the genre-defining military conflict simulator' Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis? Is it really 'the official sequel to the multi-award winning Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis'? Bohemia Interactive says: 'No! What matters is the game, not the name,'" the developer insisted.
"The award-winning Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis was created by Bohemia Interactive in 1997-2001. Bohemia Interactive licensed its creation to Codemasters to publish and distribute. Although Codemasters owns the 'Operation Flashpoint' trademark and plans to release its new game under that title, Bohemia Interactive has always owned 100 per cent of the original OFP game," it said.
"Bohemia also provided [the] gaming community [with a] complete set of editing tools and ongoing support that turned the original OFP into one of the most modded PC games ever. Codemasters owns only the name - and Bohemia Interactive wants fans to understand that Codemasters' new game is not from the same development team that brought them the classic original."
The release goes on to quote Leora Herrmann of Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin, Bohemia's lawyers. "In the license agreement, Bohemia Interactive expressly reserved the exclusive right to develop sequels to the original OFP game," Herrmann said (their emphasis). "Codemasters also acknowledged that Bohemia owns all the intellectual property in the game - except the words 'Operation Flashpoint'."
"Since Codemasters has no right to use the Bohemia Interactive game engine or any other component of the Bohemia-developed game, how can it rightfully claim to produce a 'sequel'?" Bohemia CEO Marek Spanel added in summary.
Meanwhile, in an interview with various friends-of-Eurogamer at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Spanel indicated that our recent preview of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
"One old Czech proverb says 'a lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth' and there is some point in it that could be applied to the gaming industry and media these days. Maybe from Codemasters it was just a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, but something is seriously wrong when in a preview on a major gaming site, one of the developers of the new game, who was never even remotely involved in the development of the original, is credited as a 'veteran of the original Flashpoint team'," Spanel said.
That's how Clive Lindop, Dragon Rising's senior designer, was originally introduced to Eurogamer when we visited the studio to see the game in development. After Bohemia protested and we took it up with Codemasters, we were told Lindop was a prominent member of the original Flashpoint "community", and published a correction.
"If you add up all such little misunderstandings, like Codemasters reps saying what 'we did when we made the original Operation Flashpoint' etc. you may end up with seriously distracted image of the entire situation created in minds of journalists and gamers," Spanel remarked to RPS.
Codemasters has yet to comment on the situation.
To see what else Bohemia gets up to these days, check out our recent ArmA II hands-on preview.
Codemasters on Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
- April 2003: "a true sequel to the million-selling military simulator". But back then, Bohemia was still the developer.
- April 2007: OpFlash 2 is reannounced as a Codies-developed game: "the biggest name in modern military simulation gaming will return", "Operation Flashpoint 2 will mark the long-awaited return of the total conflict simulator, which won international acclaim" and "Building on the original game's heritage".
- August 2007 (Leipzig Games Convention): "the return of the leading name in modern military simulation gaming".
- July 2008 (E3): "the return of the genre-defining military series", "the much anticipated return of the genre-defining military conflict simulator".
- September 2008: "the much anticipated sequel to the genre-defining military conflict simulator game released in 2001" (in an Image Metrics press release with quotes - and therefore, one can safely assume, approval from Codies).
- February 2009: "the much-anticipated military shooter that marks the return of the genre-defining conflict series".