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December 17th, 2009, 21:37
More interesting business type news this time for Atari rather than the usual Interplay/Bethesda punch up. Gamasutra reports statements from both sides on this legal debate. Basically Hasbro says:
Hasbro, parent of D&D owner Wizards of the Coast, said it is suing Atari for fraud and five different counts of breach of contract of the D&D licensing agreement. Hasbro said that Wizards of the Coast found that Atari "may have entered into an unauthorized sublicensing relationship with Namco Bandai Partners for the Dungeons & Dragons digital game rights."

Hasbro alleged that Namco Bandai is a competitor to Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast, a scenario that is restricted in Atari's deal with Hasbro. Hasbro is seeking to terminate its agreement with Atari, and is also seeking compensatory damages.
While Atari rebuttle:
But Atari, also known as Infogrames, said in a statement that Hasbro's allegations are unfounded. "Atari has had a long and rich history with the Dungeons and Dragons franchise, investing millions of dollars into numerous critically acclaimed and commercially successful games that have generated significant revenue for Hasbro," said an Atari statement issued Thursday.

"Hasbro has resorted to these meritless allegations, in an apparent attempt to unfairly take back rights granted to Atari. Atari has sought to resolve the matter without cooperation from Hasbro. We regret that our long-time partner has decided to pursue this action. Atari will respond appropriately through its legal counsel in court."
Link to Gamasutra's full article on the Atari v Hasbro case.
More information.
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December 17th, 2009, 21:37
So it seems Hasbro is right, atari didn't even mention the main point of the case.
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December 17th, 2009, 21:43
I wish Hasbro all the best in divesting itself from the evil Atari.
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December 17th, 2009, 23:16
Yeah, but then what? Who will they give it to and what sort of job will they do? I would expect most publishers would pass on NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer and focus more on 3rd person console action-adventures.

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December 17th, 2009, 23:18
Well I'm sure they can find someone better than Atari.
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December 18th, 2009, 01:10
Maybe. Who?

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December 18th, 2009, 01:25
Who would be worse?
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December 18th, 2009, 01:30
Great. When Wizards of the Coast bought the D&D license from TSR I was pretty sure that D&D would be forever ruined. Turned out I was wrong about that. I loved the 3rd edition.

When they sold to Hasbro I was skeptical but optimistic. Turns out I was wrong about that as well. 4th edition is a joke and now we are back to lawsuits. (sarcasm alert)Oh joy…..now all Hasbro needs is a good nickname like 'They Sue Regularly' and the salad days of the 2nd edition are back.

I don't really care who is right or who is wrong. The only thing that matters to me is that there will be no D&D games for quite some time because of this mess. Say what you will about Atari, but at least they made AD&D games that, for me, were enjoyable.

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Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Who would be worse?
No. Who is going to make them? Who is willing to invest all that time and money? Please, for the love of all that is holy do not say Bethesda.

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December 18th, 2009, 01:36
How about shifting to individual licenses and then if a too good to be true all-in-one package appears, then can consider it. Depends on how aggressive they want to compete. They now have at least an up and comer to the Dragon world with Dragon Age, but they certainly aren't dead in the water by a long shot.

Wonder if to combat the new (shrinking) economy they offer some subsiding for self-publishing titles. Then a company like Obsidian could cut cost of middle man, possibly publishing through Steam or some such.

Not sure of an exact path, as I don't know much about Hasbro or enough about the industry but it seems like it could be an opportunity to change, possibly be more competitive.

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December 18th, 2009, 01:45
Something like that is what I an hoping for. Atari just got worse and worse with the NWN franchise. I'd prefer a company that is not always broke and on the edge of failing, and is capable and willing to invest some resources into the franchise.
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December 18th, 2009, 03:42
Atari doesn't address the main point true, but they've been sub-licensing for years. The sub-licensed to Interplay who sub-licensed to Bioware and WotC didn't have a problem with it. Is Namco Bandai listed by name as a competitor on the contract whom Atri couldn't sublicense too? It makes no sense, and it seems WotC is quibbling at fine print.

If they do get their rights back the WotC could turn around and sell them again. If that's true it seems like a cash grab to me. If I recall Atari managed to renew them a few years ago.

However, after watching Biwoare quibble openly and publicly about the three way license agreement they had and having to please all the 3rd parties just to get things done with NWN it may be a real matter of Atari just being plain too difficult to work with.

OTOH, 4th ed. apparently designed for use with computer interaction and since they dropped their partnerships with magazines Dungeon and Dragon and with Dragonlance its probably some pie in the sky plan in that direction.

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December 18th, 2009, 03:46
@Thrasher, I think that sounds great…but I doubt it will happen. As I said before, a larger publisher won't be interested in hardcore RPGs. Just like EA used the LotR license to make a bunch of crappy action-adventures and Ubisoft has used the M&M license to make an action game, HoMMV, a puzzle DS game and a rumoured MMO.

Awesome.

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December 18th, 2009, 04:38
What publisher in their right mind is going to make rpgs that we would consider 'hardcore'? Maybe with Dragon Age's success that might change.

Maybe one of these guys can pick up the license: 2k, 1C, CD Projekt, JoWood, Bethesda , or Deep Silver. I wouldn't mind seeing what 1C or CD Projekt could do in the D&D realm, but that is a pie in the sky dream. It's not going to happen.

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December 18th, 2009, 05:00
would any one of those publishers like to be scrutinized every step of the way and deal with an approval board? maybe some slight rule is not correct or maybe its not Faerun enough?

These kind of issues came up all the time with NWN. HeX Coda was squashed by WotC not Atari.

TSR used to believe they owned RPG and any competition was stealing their market, just as the Tolkien family seems to think they own anything fantasy related. WotC is long beyond that (having been a victim of TSR themselves) - I don't think alienating potential partners in their decreasing influence in the market a good idea. We've long since seen a video game made to replicate the feel of a PnP RPG and are steadily doing the reverse; the PnP RPG that plays like a video game.

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December 18th, 2009, 10:46
Atari did a pretty good job with the license IMHO, - the NWN2 expansions in particular were all sorts of brilliant, despite the limited market they targeted. I think the difficulty is in just who are 'Atari' as far as these licensing things go - they've morphed so much and had ownership in so many different places that it's hard to define. From one viewpoint for example, Namco Bandai Partners are Atari.
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December 18th, 2009, 11:53
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
Atari doesn't address the main point true, but they've been sub-licensing for years. The sub-licensed to Interplay who sub-licensed to Bioware and WotC didn't have a problem with it.
That's not correct. Interplay bought the licence directly from TSR, when they splitted the D&D licence into several gameworld licences. Interplay bought the Forgotten Realms and Planescape licence and already did several D&D titles like Descent to Undermountain, Dragon Dice, Blood & Magic before. The new Pool of Radiance title from Stormfront in 2001 was also a result of that splitting strategy. But most games of these era haven't been very successful.

When TSR was bought by WotC, they changed their strategy. They bundled all the rights and gave it to one single publisher (Hasbro Interactive). That didn't touch the agreement with Interplay, as long as they were able to pay the licence fee (until 2002 or 2003, I think). Infogrames got that full D&D licence in 2001, when they bought Hasbro Interactive and also got the name rights for Atari, which they used for their publishing division from then.

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December 18th, 2009, 16:01
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Atari did a pretty good job with the license IMHO, - the NWN2 expansions in particular were all sorts of brilliant, despite the limited market they targeted. I think the difficulty is in just who are 'Atari' as far as these licensing things go - they've morphed so much and had ownership in so many different places that it's hard to define. From one viewpoint for example, Namco Bandai Partners are Atari.
I'm sorry, I don't post very often, but I had to log in and reply to this comment. only 1 of the 2 NWN2 expacs were worth anything close to the money, or time involved. SoZ was half finished, and terrible for the most part. It had the makings of a great game, but you could see large glaring signs of capital not supporting proper development throughout the game.

NWN2 it self was a tragedy. I'm not sure whom to blame with the poor implementation, Atari or Obsidian, the load time alone are atrocious, and scream shoddy work. NWN2, while fun, was bug ridden, and poorly produced, a hallmark of the modern day Atari.

Lets not forget the tragedies Atari provided with the MoW expansion delay of almost 2 years after it was gold, and the horrible bugs, and lack of support on TOEE, which was a simply great game.

I loathe Atari after what it did to my favorite gaming franchise, and license of all time. They have shat all over the D&D license, and in what should of been a golden age of CRPG's following BG I&II, IW I&II, PS:T, etc… they released utter trash 90% of the time…. Dragonshards anyone ?
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December 18th, 2009, 16:37
Remember that Wizards of the Coast today is not the gamer-run company that saved D&D when TSR was falling into it's self-dug grave. WotC is a minor division of Hasbro and is run by people who know little, if anything, about the games they sell. That's the same thing that happened to TSR. Hasbro/WotC will extract as much money as possible while doing as little as possible until D&D is a dried up husk. And this time there is no gamer-run company with bundles of cash around to save it.
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December 18th, 2009, 22:56
@mooninja

Well said!

Also how about cancelling the sale of NWN preminium modules with no warning? That REALLY annoyed me.
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December 18th, 2009, 23:31
Ironic you would say that considering the circumstances- after all, it's not like it was a sublicencing agreement to wholly owned EA subsidiary Bioware that they canceled. It's pretty much removed any doubts from my mind that they did it [nuked the premium mods] as soon as they got notification of the lawsuit and the reason was wotc getting grumpy with the licence.
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