Human Head Studios Sued

Human Head Studios Being Sued by Rune II Publisher for Withholding Assets, Breaching Contract

Things have not been going well for Human Head Studios lately. After putting out the rather disastrous The Quiet Man last year, they announced last month that the studio would be shutting down, with the staff then being picked up by Bethesda and formed into a new development team under the name Roadhouse Studios. Human Head’s final game was action RPG Rune II, launched on November 13, 2019, the same day they chose to shut down. It seems that Ragnarok Game, the publisher for Rune II, is not amused. It is filing a lawsuit against several of Human Head Studios’ key staff for a breach of contract after the developer had committed to support the title.

The lawsuit was first announced by the publisher on Rune II‘s official forums. Ragnarok was completely surprised by Human Head Studios’ closure and was not made aware of it until five days before the shutdown. According to Ragnarok, Human Head’s contract promised post-launch support for Rune II, with one part of the lawsuit saying “As part of its long-term contract, Human Head was not only contractually committed to support Rune II’s launch, but also to support the game beyond its launch, in exchange for a $110,000 fee to be paid by Ragnarok.”

Beyond that, Ragnarok Game claims that Human Head is refusing to hand over finished assets for Rune II, and the lawsuit is necessary because they can’t continue to support the game without the code and assets they paid for. On a post on Rune II‘s official forums, they said the following:

Since Human Head’s sudden closure, announcement, and discovering the active concealment of their acquisition, we have repeatedly requested access to the final launch build source code and RUNE II game assets. This is so we can continue to support, update, and execute future DLC for our community. As part of the publishing agreement on RUNE II, Ragnarok Game LLC has paid for the development of these assets and is the rightful owner of them. After repeated refusals by Human Head to produce these assets, we’ve had no choice but to file a legal complaint in order to obtain the RUNE II game assets. We have exhausted all possible options before getting to this point. This is not the step we wanted to take, but it is necessary in order to fulfill our promises to our community.

The lawsuit reveals more details about the relationship between the two companies. Ragnarok claims several times that Human Head breached the contract, constantly missing milestones, requiring the game to be delayed five times, and leaving the publisher to handle tasks like roadmaps, marketing, and community management after Human Head allegedly promised they would but didn’t follow up. It also claimed that, by shutting down on the game’s launch day, they tanked any positive press Rune II should have gotten. They particularly bring that up because “despite earlier assurances from Human Head that it would not do anything to damage the Rune II launch or Ragnarok, less than 24 hours after the launch, Human Head publicly announced its acquisition by Bethesda—Ragnarok’s competitor.”

[Source: Lawsuit Document, Rune II Official Forums]