Star Citizen dev hits back against Crytek as war of words continues

"Crytek has dragged CIG through the mud…"

Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games has hit back in its ugly legal battle with Crytek.

In a court document filed on 17th January, CIG claimed Crytek's recent move to dismiss its own lawsuit against the Star Citizen maker was because "Crytek can no longer delay the inevitable reckoning that its claim is and has always been meritless".

In January, Crytek said it wanted to dismiss its own lawsuit against CIG until the standalone single-player Squadron 42 comes out. Crytek added it believed there was no point in going ahead with a trial in June 2020 as planned because its claims revolve around the release of Squadron 42 as a standalone game - and it didn't look like that would happen anytime soon.

For background, Crytek licensed CryEngine to CIG back in November 2012. According to the court document, CIG paid Crytek a $2m buyout licence fee for the right to use CryEngine.

Amid financial trouble that threatened the future of the company, Crytek entered into a licence agreement with Amazon, resulting in the Lumberyard Game Engine derived from CryEngine.

CIG says it began discussing a potential licence agreement with Amazon in March 2015, when Amazon told CIG it was developing Lumberyard based on CryEngine. Amazon then granted CIG the right to use Lumberyard in April 2016, and CIG began switching its engine code to Lumberyard. In December 2016, CIG began displaying the trademark for Lumberyard instead of CryEngine on the opening splash screen for Star Citizen. On 23rd December 2016, CIG announced the switch to Lumberyard and, apparently, Crytek did not object.

According to CIG, Crytek raised concern in January 2016 when CIG announced people could pay to access Squadron 42, the single-player story campaign, directly. "Crytek pointed out that the GLA [Game Licence Agreement] did not authorise content released outside of the Star Citizen game client," reads the court document. In response, in February 2016, CIG said via a post on its website: "[t]he package split does not change the fact that Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are part of the same game universe, or the fact that the games are functionally connected. You will access Squadron 42 through the same game client."

Nearly two years later, on 12th December 2017, Crytek filed its lawsuit. Two years after that, two of Crytek's initial complaints remain: that CIG infringed Crytek's copyright by developing Squadron 42 to be a released as a standalone game outside the Star Citizen game client; and that CIG breached the GLA by crediting Lumberyard instead of CryEngine in Star Citizen.

Following Crytek's motion to dismiss its own lawsuit, CIG has had its say, and in a strongly-worded court document moved to discredit Crytek's lawsuit. It described it as "meritless in light of CIG's separate licence with Amazon", and insisted GLA expressly grants CIG the right to use CryEngine and to develop Squadron 42.

CIG said in May 2019, Crytek "sheepishly and belatedly" emailed Amazon to ask if it had truly granted CIG a licence covering prior versions of CryEngine as well as Lumberyard. According to CIG, in that email, "Crytek conceded that an affirmative answer would likely tank its Squadron 42 claim." Amazon confirmed it licensed Lumberyard to CIG in 2016 - and that it included CryEngine in that licence.

"CIG's separate licence with Amazon operates as a complete defense against Crytek's remaining claims so they too never should have been brought," CIG says.

"Instead of acting responsibly even at that late moment, Crytek persisted, fought the bond motion, and dithered another seven months before bringing this motion."

There's a funny paragraph in CIG's document about the issue of "ripeness" - that the lawsuit is pointless until Squadron 42 comes out. Here it is:

"Crytek first raised the possibility of it seeking a voluntary dismissal during a meet and confer between counsel on December 4, 2019. Crytek's counsel expressed surprise that, in response to one of Crytek's Interrogatories, Crytek's counsel said that, accepting the truth of this response, Crytek was thinking about filing a voluntary motion to dismiss and refiling when Squadron 42 was released.

"Given that CIG had been arguing the ripeness point from day one, and given that the parties had been in hard-fought litigation for over two years, CIG's counsel thought Crytek must be joking.

"But CIG soon learned that Crytek was not joking, but rather using CIG's interrogatory response as a pretext to justify its request to exit irresponsible litigation without accountability."

Crytek wants a dismissal without prejudice, but CIG wants a dismissal with prejudice, which would force Crytek to pay some or all of its legal fees. CIG says it's spent more than $900,000 in attorney's fees and costs so far, and wants $500,000 as part of a dismissal. "Crytek should not be allowed to walk away without prejudice after forcing CIG to expend so much time and effort only to pack up right before the close of discovery," CIG insisted.

Crytek has until 7th February 2020 to respond to CIG's response.

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About the author

Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

Deputy Editor

Wesley is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.

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