Richard Garriott blasts NCsoft with $24 million lawsuit

When Tabula Rasa shut down in January, we thought we'd heard the last of NCsoft and Richard Garriott in the same sentence. Oh, how wrong we were. Yesterday, Kotaku broke the news that Garriott was suing his old pals at NCsoft to the tune of $24 million for fraud, and generally being a bunch of fetid arsebiscuits. Details were decidedly skimpy, however - why would Garriott go after the company so long after his departure? What had gone rotten in the state of Denmark?

This morning, GamePolitics added their .02 to the mix and upped the ante with the legal documents involved - and boy, are they illuminating. According to Richard's side of the story, it goes like this: Richard & co form Destination Games, and are bought out by NCsoft in exchange for some very hefty stock options. After Tabula Rasa launches, Richard gets tapped for a space flight he signed up for some years prior. After talking to NCsoft higher-ups, he is approved for, and goes on, extended leave to take his space flight. During this time, he continues doing PR for Tabula Rasa, including Operation Immortality. Flight (and PR stunt) successful, Richard touches down to Earth, goes into quarantine in Russia, and NCsoft calls him to drop the hammer - while he's stuck in Russia, decontaminating. No choice, no warning, nothing. "So long, and thanks for all the Bane."
According to the documents, this is where the fraud comes in to play. They apparently terminated him and yet classified him as a voluntary termination - in other words "he quit." This means that all the stock options he had either had to be cashed in (at a significant loss in a craptastic market) within 90 days from his date of departure, or it was gone. To add insult to injury, the "open letter" that was purported to be from Richard Garriott to the loyal fans of Tabula Rasa? He claims it was written by NCsoft - not him. So, NCsoft - according to the court documents - terminates Garriott, sends the Destination Games team packing, shuts down TR, authors a letter they say is from Garriott to the community, then falsifies his termination paperwork stating that he left voluntarily - and was not terminated.

Considering NCsoft is already in a pretty nasty place with the current Worlds.com lawsuit going on, dealing with a series of layoffs and slipping profits, this new action against them by Garriott doesn't bode well. The question now becomes how much merit this lawsuit has - and just what NCsoft's response will be. In the meantime, stock up on popcorn folks, because this drama llama's got some legs, and we're betting this isn't going to be the last we hear about it.
This article was originally published on Massively.