Think the drama over "Brutal Legend" is over? Think again.
It turns out that Activision Blizzard is under the impression it still has publishing rights to the game. And it’s threatening to sue developer Double Fine and new publisher Electronic Arts as a result.
(Some background for anyone who hasn’t followed this whole drama for the past year: Double Fine, developer of the critically acclaimed but underperforming “Psychonauts,” set up “Brutal Legend,” an action game set in the world of heavy metal that stars Jack Black, at Vivendi Games. Then last year Vivendi Games merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard. The newly merged company, led by Activision execs, declined to pick up a number of Vivendi’s projects, including, it appeared, “Brutal Legend.” Then in December, Electronic Arts announced that it had reached a deal with Double Fine and would release the game next fall.)
Now Activision Blizzard has written a letter to EA (and possibly Double Fine) informing them of its legal concerns. According to two sources familiar with ActiBlizzard’s position, the publisher believes that it was still in negotiations with Double Fine and that the EA deal is invalid.
Does that mean ActiBlizzard wants “Brutal Legend” for itself? Nope. I’ve been told it doesn’t think the game has the potential to be the kind of mega-profitable, “Call of Duty”-size franchise that it looks for these days.
So what does it want? A good guess would be money in exchange for giving up its publishing rights. That is what it received from Atari for “Ghostbusters” and “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena,” for instance.
Double Fine’s position, however, appears to be that it owns the rights to “Brutal Legend” and that somehow in the merger process, whether because there’s no longer a Vivendi Games or because the original fall 2008 publishing date passed and Activision didn’t express interest in finding a new one, it's allowed to find a new publisher.
An Activision Blizzard rep declined to comment. But EA has responded with its claws bared, giving me this rather pointed response:
We doubt that Activision would try to sue. That would be like a husband abandoning his family and then suing after his wife meets a better looking guy.
So...Activision can fuck right off. Talk about slimy. Go EA!