At last week's E3, Tim Shafer gave us more of a taste of what his upcoming Brutal Legend would be like, and it looked tasty, only affirming it's title as being one of the most anticipated games of this year. However, "anticipated games of this year" could turn into "anticipated games of next year", as Activision is looking to halt the release of the game by suing the games developer Double Fine Productions.
The legal issues are a little convoluted (which is no surprise), so I'll try to summarize as best as I can. It seems Activision paid Double Fine Productions the sum of about $15 million to develop Brutal Legend, but Double Fine ended up missing a crucial deadline last year. According to the suit, Double Fine then claimed that they would need another nine months and $7 million to complete the game.
Activision claims that they were still in negotiations with Double Fine to continue the development of the game, but no agreement was ever reached. Which is strange because although Activision merged with Vivendi (the company who held the game's publishing rights) they did not acquire the publishing rights. Thus, Double Fine ended up going to EA to publish the game and planned a release on October 13, 2009.
Activision now contends that they never relinquished the rights to the game, were under the impression that they were still in negotiations with it and that Double Fine improperly transferred Brutal Legend to EA.
When reached for comment, Double Fine President Tim Schafer said:
"Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it. Oh great, now Beyonce is going to sue me too."
Activision also claims that they have suffered "irreparable harm" and will lose more than just the game, but also the ability to sell downloadable content based on Brutal Legend if the game isn't stopped.
EA had doubts that Activision would actually sue, stating that that would "be like a husband abandoning his family and then suing after his wife meets a better guy." Well, unfortunately, looks like the husband is suing, and he's suing with everything he's got. Let's hope this gets resolved swiftly and justly as many are still hoping to bang their heads this "Rocktober."