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Turbine sues Atari over D&D Online

Pre-emptive strike against Cryptic rival?

Turbine, developer of Dungeons & Dragons Online, has filed a $30 million lawsuit against Atari over its licence to make the D&D MMO. Atari owns the rights to Dungeons & Dragons, and Turbine claims that it's trying to wriggle out of their agreement in order to launch its own, competing game.

According to the Courthouse News Service - which also published the complaint in a PDF - Turbine believes Atari has acted in bad faith, failing to support the game as agreed while continuing to accept royalty payments from Turbine.

Furthermore, Turbine contends that when Atari recently agreed to extend the companies' agreement to pave the way for the DDO Unlimited free-to-play version of the game, it was already planning to "manufacture a trumped-up and false basis to threaten to terminate the contractual relationship". Atari, it says, has now accused Turbine of withholding information and royalty fees.

This, Turbine believes, is an effort to "extort more money from Turbine or, alternately, to free itself from obligations under the contracts in order to clear the way for the launch of its own competing MMO service based on the D&D and Advanced D&D intellectual properties".

That supports recent rumours in Variety that Atari had put its acquisition Cryptic Studios to work on production of a Neverwinter Nights MMO - Neverwinter Nights also being based on the Dungeons & Dragons universe and rules.

Although Dungeons & Dragons Online has been running for some years with only modest subscriber numbers, Turbine has high hopes for the DDO Unlimited relaunch - which hits North America on 9th September - and clearly intends to fight its corner.