Double Fine under pressure as Activision launches lawsuit

Double Fine under pressure as Activision launches lawsuit

By Rob Crossley

June 5th 2009 at 10:47AM

Activision insists it hadnâ??t relinquished the rights to Brutal Legend, a game soon to be published by EA

Publishing kingpin Activision is suing independent developer Double Fine Productions in a bid to prevent the release of its upcoming title Brutal Legend.

According to an AP report, the lawsuit makes three claims; Double Fine failed to deliver Brutal Legend on time, Activision had not let go of the rights to publish the title, and Double Fine had – after using up a $22 million investment from Activision – offered the full game to EA.

The publishing rights to Brutal Legend was once the property of Vivendi Games, though soon after Vivendi made its landmark merger with Activision, the new mega-publisher made a series of divestments, dropping the rights to publish titles such as Ghostbusters, The Chronicles of Riddick and, now disputably, Brutal Legend.

Activision is suggesting that it did not relinquish the rights to publish Brutal Legend, and claims that those rights were wrongly transferred to rival publisher EA.

Activision adds that it invested an initial $15 million in Double Fine to complete development of Brutal Legend, and insists that it handed the developer a further $7 million upon hearing the project would need another nine months to complete.

These series of events, says Activision, has caused the publisher "irreparable harm”, adding that if the game’s release isn’t halted, it will lose business from the game as well as the ability to sell downloadable content.

"Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it," said a seemingly undaunted Double Fine President Tim Schafer (pictured). "Oh great, now Beyonce is going to sue me too."

It is not known why the lawsuit has emerged at this hour. It was in July last year when reports suggested Activision had dropped the rights to publish Brutal Legend. In December, Double Fine announced it had struck a deal with EA Partners to release the game.

Pending legal proceedings, Brutal Legend is scheduled for release in October. EA was not mentioned in the lawsuit.