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Breaking: Turbine sues Atari over Dungeons and Dragons Online


Turbine has filed a lawsuit against publishing partner Atari in New York courts for a breach of licensing agreement all centered around Dungeons and Dragons Online. The two companies are locked in a legal battle regarding accusations including failing contractual obligations and wrongful termination of agreements.

The court documents filed on Monday paint the picture of a long chain of grievances against Atari made by Turbine, starting with lackluster support all the way back when Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach launched in 2006. Turbine asserts that Atari has failed to maintain their obligations as the publisher of the game while still holding onto the licensing for Dungeons and Dragons. These obligations mostly include the marketing aspects of the game, such as commercials, advertising, retail box creation, retail promotion, and cross-promotion with other Atari products. (Fans of the game will remember the very lackluster marketing campaign at the game's launch, especially when compared with Champions Online's marketing, another Atari-backed game.) Because of these failures, Turbine has had to step in and become the publisher of the game in North America, costing the company millions of dollars.

The lawsuit goes on further to describe a plot made by Atari to wrongfully terminate the licensing agreement and shake down Turbine for more money, even while the agreement was being updated to support the game's transition to the free to play model and Turbine was offering Atari a good faith payment of thousands of dollars future royalties. The documents suggest that Atari's motivation for letting this agreement update go through was to take Turbine's good faith payment before severing the agreement completely, shutting out Turbine while simultaneously paving the road for Atari's competing product (which we can only assume is Cryptic Studio's Champions Online.)

Atari hasn't been content to stay silent on this whole matter, stating to Courthouse News that Turbine over invested in Dungeons and Dragons Online to demand more consideration from Atari than called for by the agreement in question. The company also goes on to say that Turbine's lawsuit is threatening the goodwill that Turbine has developed with current and future players who expect to play DDO: Unlimited.

From all of this lawsuit, Turbine is seeking 30 million dollars worth of damages from Atari -- constituting recovered losses from Atari's breaches of contract.

What still seems to be up in the air regarding this whole case is what would happen to Dungeons and Dragons Online should this licensing agreement be terminated. The full rights to the game are between Turbine, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, and Atari, however it is Atari who has granted the sublicense for the game to Turbine. Should this agreement completely fall through, will Turbine still have control of the game?

When asked to comment on the case, Turbine released the following statement to Massively: "As a legal matter we can't comment on the particulars of the case. We have recently extended our rights to develop and operate DDO Unlimited until 2016 and are looking forward to our launch next week."

[Via Joystiq]

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