With Atari and Cryptic's Champions Online prepping for deployment next
week, this is the worst possible news that they could hear on a
relatively quiet Wednesday. According to Courthouse News Service,
Turbine have filed suit against the past console maker claiming that
Atari "breached agreements by accepting payments - including future
royalty payments - in return for extending their relationship and
paving the way for the launch of Turbine's free-to-play DDO: Unlimited
service, though Atari knew it would not perform its obligations under
the agreements and knew it would pretextually seek to declare Turbine
in breach of the agreements."
By looking deeper into the attached PDF on the story, Turbine is seeking to recoup $30 million in losses that Atari helped to perpetuate. For those of you that always wondered about the seeming lack of distribution efforts concerning DDO in stores around Europe, you may have your answer. The PDF explains that although Turbine took control of the North American distribution of DDO, Atari was the exclusive distributor in Europe and didn't live up to their end of the bargain.
An intriguing part of this story comes later in the news blurb, where Turbine's outlined argument continues, stating that "Atari's purported 'termination' was part of a strategy it conceived prior to the May 13 agreements that it would either terminate Turbine as part of a shakedown, or proceed with termination in bad faith to benefit from its own competing product at Turbine's expense."
The competing product in question - Champions Online. After a quick glance around the MMO internet, it's easy to see that Atari has spent far more on promoting Champions Online than it has towards DDO, but was this part of the contract agreement or not?
On top of that, a competing MMO service (as read in the PDF) could also point toward the rumors of a Forgotten Realms or Neverwinter Nights MMO that have been slowly circulating around the web.
Though the popularity of the free-to-play version of DDO seems fairly reliable, Turbine later claims in the PDF document that "Turbine would never have entered into Amendment Number Five or the Letter Agreement, nor would it have expended time, money and effort (or staked its reputation) on the launch of DDO: Unlimited had it had any warning that Atari’s representations concerning its enthusiastic support for DDO: Unlimited were false."
Believe it or not, the fraudulence of Atari might also bring into question a number of other factors including the future of DDO on either the Xbox 360 or the PS3. This was one of the "false statements" Atari made to Turbine between October 2008 and May 13, 2009:
The parties would explore taking the DDO: Stormreach game to video game consoles, such as the Xbox 360@ and PS3’ platforms.
Although Turbine's Adam Mersky couldn't immediately comment about the court proceedings, he did say that DDO was still right on schedule:
"We are looking forward to the launch of DDO Unlimited next week."
You can all breathe a sigh of relief, DDO fans. Your game looks to be in a safe position. Despite the problems DDO has had in the past, we sincerely hope that Turbine can continue to hold onto the D&D license and bring us free-to-play D&D gaming!