The Battle for Fallout Rights Ensues

October 21, 2009 Written by Dan Massi


In all started in 2004, when Bethesda first acquired the Fallout rights, many fans of the series turned away. Time grew, and Fallout 3 was eventually released to the masses on October 23rd, 2008. However, the series original creator Interplay, and Bethesda are not so friendly. Bethesda recently filed a lawsuit against Interplay, for the rights of both Fallout Online and the original titles.

But Interplay has struck back, with a countersuit in reaction to the lawsuit filed by Bethesda. Interplay says that the company is in breach of contract, and that the contract to sell the rights to the Fallout series is both null and void. Interplay has also stated that they own the franchise once again.

On the Raging Bull Stockholder forum, a stockholder from Interplay posted the following on the counter suit:

“Interplay argued that they purposefully retained the rights to the original Fallout games when selling the Fallout license to Bethesda knowing full well (as did Bethesda) that Interplay was going to exploit the original Fallout games upon release of Fallout 3. Why would Interplay keep the original Fallout rights and sell Fallout for so cheap unless this was built in as part of the package deal? The original Fallout games are only worth something in relation to sales generated from the release of FAllout 3. Therefore, Interplay did not harm Bethesda in any way by selling the original Fallout games. Interplay has a right per this deal to exploit the original Fallout games and to not see this as unfair competition with Bethesda. Also, Bethesda under their initial agreement did not have any rights to determine how Interplay chose to exploit selling their Fallout games. Bethesda had the right to inspect promotional material/marketing that Interplay used with their original games ONLY to make sure that Interplay wasn’t unfairly trying to confuse their game with Interplay’s. However, a key component of that provision was that Bethesda could not UNREASONABLY WITHOLD their approval, which Bethesda seems to be doing in this case. Most importantly, however, Interplay did not produce any promotional material or marketing for their Fallout games, which is the only statement that is made in the original agreement (the original agreement regarding the original Fallout games only covered marketing and promotional material, of which Interplay had none. None of the other complaints that Bethesda made against Interplay were a part of the original contract, and are thus null and void). Interplay sold the original Fallout games with very little in the way of packaging materials (a very basic instruction manual), and Interplay did not spend any money on marketing, which can be verified in their 10-K. I remember saying how odd it was that Interplay suddenly had a statement on their website that they were selling Fallout games at Best Buy and that there was no promotional material or marketing for this. Interplay was simply complying with the contract. It all makes perfect sense now in hindsight.

You can read the full post here. A second post also details the filing.