Fallout MMO Reaches Apocalypse

Remember the Fallout MMO from Interplay? The development of the post-apocalyptic time guzzler was announced to varied degrees of enthusiasm but quickly adopted a silent stance as questions rose over whether this fabled title would ever transpire. Then, in the summer of 2010, the first newsletters featuring tales from the wasteland started to arrive in the virtual mailboxes of those who had registered interest on the MMO’s website. It looked as though the Lone Wanderer would be no longer alone, and that things were finally taking shape.

Within the space of the next twelve months, however, the newsletters became more infrequent and details surrounding the game grew considerably more vague as insiders told of how the legal battle between Bethesda and Interplay was likely to bring the project to a grinding halt. Bethesda had, it was reported, turned down the original offer of full rights to the Fallout franchise for $50m and instead settled on a greatly reduced figure of $5.75m with no provisions to develop an MMO, leaving Interplay free to take the online baton as their own.

As was reported at the time, Bethesda realised the true potential of the franchise after the release, and subsequent acclaim, of Fallout 3 and began further legal proceedings to claim full licensing rights which would remove Interplay’s ability to produce the MMO. By October 2010, however, Interplay took the success of Fallout: New Vegas as a cue to publicise their ongoing development and announced that fans would see an initial beta by Q4 of 2012. Could it be that we would see an eventual release?

Sadly, no. In an email from the top at Bethesda last night, it was announced that Bethesda had in fact won their case against Interplay and that all rights would revert back to Bethesda in full, effective immediately. The reasons given were that Interplay had failed to meet the conditions of their initial agreement, which is reported to have been their securing of $30m in funding and full scale development by April 2009.

A golden handshake of $2m was offered by Zenimax which will presumably be swallowed up by litigation fees so it is, as yet, unclear as to whether Interplay will walk away with any recompense for their development time thus far or their tails tucked neatly between their legs for going up against the (super mutant) behemoth that is Bethesda. Bethesda has, through the original lawsuit, become entangled with Masthead Studios, a third party developer that Interplay had subcontracted to develop the Fallout MMO on their behalf, to ensure that they do not continue with their project and relinquish any rights passed on to them by Interplay in any sublicensing deal.

For those of us who had relished the thought of a Fallout MMO, we may have to wait a while longer.

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