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Court documents say Bethesda's MMO already under dev, rumor says it's Elder Scrolls

In this most recent round of court scuffles between Interplay and Bethesda over the Fallout MMO rights, it would seem that some details are coming to light about what's going on at Bethesda's MMO "branch", Zenimax Media. According to filings, the word is that there are close to 100 people working on an MMO that costs "tens and tens of millions of dollars" and has been under development since late 2006. Apparently these same filings claim that the title is a "World of Warcraft" type MMO. Of course, considering World of Warcraft is about as equal to McDonalds in terms of brand recognition with its millions and millions served, saying something is like World of Warcraft could mean anything from 'it's a DIKU-based, kill-ten-rats, FedEx, fantasy MMO that looks rather a lot like WoW' on up to 'it's somewhere in the general MMO neighborhood.'

Now, to follow this interesting tidbit up, the word is that Bethesda is moving to have this particular chunk of testimony censored to protect trade secrets. To stir the pot a bit further on why they might be scrambling to block it, VG247 have a source they claim is reliable confirming this is the often-rumored Elder Scrolls MMO. What's more, their source says the Elder Scrolls MMO should have been announced last year.

Holding off on a Fallout MMO, we can understand. Bethesda doesn't have the clear rights to the Fallout MMO IP as yet like they do with the single-player game, so to announce it early would be folly. At the rate things are proceeding, heavens only knows how long the Interplay/Bethesda proceedings will drag out, so one could argue developing it before this is all settled would be folly too, considering how fast technology evolves.

As for the reasons on holding an Elder Scrolls MMO back, we have some problem with justifying the rumors of delay. After all, Bethesda clearly owns the rights to Elder Scrolls, and starting the hype machine up several years before release wouldn't exactly be a surprisingly new tactic from any company in the games industry.

Still, there are tasty tidbits that support an Elder Scrolls MMO offering, such as Todd Howard's statement that there's "always a chance" for an Elder Scrolls MMO, Zenimax holding several Elder Scrolls MMO type domains after getting funding for MMO development, and the slip-up by a book publisher that noted the next game in the series after Oblivion would be 200 years later.

Whether the game those nearly 100 souls are busy working on is the oft asked for Elder Scrolls MMO, or if they are indeed elbows-deep in a Fallout MMO despite counsel's claims to the contrary, who knows. Both games would undoubtedly have a following, and could stand to make Bethesda/Zenimax some nice cash if done well.

[via VG247]

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