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News Drama Business IGN: Bethesda Sued for $100 Million After Alleged 'Intentional Sabotage' of Rune 2 to Protect The Elder Scrolls

Court of public opinion: After reading the article, is Bethesda/Zenimax a guilty party in your view?


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Article here: Click me.

Publisher Ragnarok Game has amended a lawsuit against Human Head Studios, suing Bethesda for $100 million over its alleged part in an "intentional sabotage" of Ragnarok's Rune 2 in an attempt to protect The Elder Scrolls franchise.

As reported by PC Gamer, the lawsuit was originally filed in December of 2019 and focused on Human Head Studios, the original developers of Rune 2. Ragnarok claims that the developers intentionally abandoned the game upon launch and refused to turn over the source code, so the publisher is seeking damages and restitution. The reason Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Media are now involved in the suit is that Human Head Studios went out of business a day after the game's launch, only to be absorbed by Bethesda and re-opened as Roundhouse Studios on the same day.

You can read the amended complaint here, which notes that Ragnarok "seeks redress for fraud and the intentional sabotage of two video games, Rune II and Oblivion Song." Oblivion Song wasn't announced, but it appears to be an adaptation of the popular Robert Kirkman comic book series that was left unfinished when Human Head Studios announced their departure. "Rune II was maliciously torpedoed in a conspiracy between the game's developer, desperate for cash, and a large video game conglomerate intent on destroying threats to its own video-game franchises," the complaint reads.

The suit alleges that Human Head contacted Bethesda and ZeniMax about a potential acquisition without notifying Ragnarok, and later provided the publisher with keys to a pre-release version of Rune 2, which allowed Bethesda to "see for themselves the threat that Rune II posed to their hit franchise, Skyrim/Elder Scrolls." Then, two weeks prior to Rune II's launch, Zenimax allegedly formed Roundhouse Studios and used the company "to purchase all of Human Head's equipment and take over its leases," which Ragnarok alleges contained trade secrets, source and materials relating to the two games.

The complaint also mentions the PR troubles caused by the alleged sabotage, noting that in spite of the game's positive reviews, the next day Ragnarok was faced with headlines about the studio's departure and the wavering future of Rune 2 post-launch. For more on Rune 2, you can check out our preview of the game from 2019.

ZeniMax Media was recently part of a major acquisition, with Bethesda Softworks and Roundhouse Studios brought under the wing of Microsoft in September as part of a $7.5 billion deal.

Complaint here: Click me.

=======================

So what do you think?
Is Bethesda/Zenimax guilty as accused?
Is Publisher Ragnarok just making shit up?
Is the truth in between - and thus a settlement will be the outcome?
 
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DrScissorsMD

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Regardless of Bethesdas more recent output, the article suggests that Ragnarok thinks Rune 2 was so good it was a threat to Skyrim??? Is it really that good? I’ve never played any Rune games so I’m honestly asking, that bit screams hyperbole and doesn’t do them any favours despite it looking like Bethesda is at fault.
 
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I think someone saw that Bethesda just got $7 billion dollars and wants a cut of it.
It was filed in December 2019

It was recently amended so ManaByte ManaByte may have a fair point here. The details and claims are damming however. Then again imagination is never in short supply for lawsuits.

From the complaint:

Unbeknownst to Plaintiffs, Human Head began conspiring with Defendants Bethesda Softworks (“Bethesda”) and Zenimax Media Inc. (“Zenimax”) in the late summer of 2019. 13. Deliberately hiding this fact from Plaintiffs, Human Head contacted representatives of Bethesda and Zenimax about an acquisition. At the very same time, Human Head represented to Plaintiffs that it would complete development of Rune II, usher it through launch, and support its further growth and development after launch.

These statements were patently false. But they were a necessary deceit for Human Head to solve its cash flow problem. As Human Head has testified, they did not tell Plaintiffs about the acquisition because, if they had “[Plaintiffs] would have pulled away and looked for a new developer. And we would not have seen further payments for Oblivion Song or Rune.”

In an act of utter bad faith and contractual breach of confidentiality requirements, Human Head secretly provided Bethesda and Zenimax with “keys” that permitted it to play a confidential, pre-release version of Rune II. This enabled Bethesda and Zenimax to see for themselves the threat that Rune II posed to their hit franchise, Skyrim/Elder Scrolls. Plaintiffs were never informed of this betrayal. 16. Two weeks prior to launch of Rune II, Zenimax secretly formed a new subsidiary, Roundhouse Studios LLC (“Roundhouse”), and used that company to purchase all of Human Head’s equipment and take over its leases. That equipment contained Plaintiffs’ trade secrets, the source code and materials for Rune II and Oblivion Song. In that same time frame, in order to complete a de facto merger, Zenimax arranged to have all employees dismissed from Human Head and hired by Zenimax.

Once Zenimax controlled all of Human Head’s employees and assets, it then ordered those employees to cease development work on Rune II and Oblivion Song. And on the date of the launch, to ensure maximum damage to Rune II and protect its Skyrim franchise, Zenimax took the game’s project lead, Christopher Rhinehart, entirely off the chess board. Mr. Rhinehart was Rune II’s creative heart and soul who was also serving as the lead developer. Zenimax sent Mr. Rhinehart on a two-day business trip to Austin, Texas. Seeking to drive a stake through the heart of Rune II, Bethesda and Zenimax then authored a press release the day after Rune II’s initial launch designed to torpedo Rune II’s status with consumers.
 

Kerlurk

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Here is a good article on that:

They did get the source code at the end of 2019, and have a new team working on it.

It seems they are getting a lot of support because of what went down.

Bethesda/Zenimax and the people behind Human Head Studios, Ben Gokey and Chris Rhinehart, have some serious questions to answer for, and they are staying silent.
 
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Yoboman

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Guess that's now increased to a 7.6 billion dollar acquisition
 

Dane

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Saw the whole thing back in the day, if its true, its a scum movie from Human Head where people felt pity over to reports of Bethesda screwing them and prey 2 for not taking an acquisition offer.

I hope that Microsoft knows about it, otherwise...
 

sixamp

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I didn't read everything but why was this filed on 2019 if skyrim came out in 2011ish?
 

Oppoi

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I guess it was the ordinary routine of aquiring another sinking ship. Good fit!
 
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RokkanStoned

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I don't know. Just from a surface level (as I've not yet read much about it) it seems absurd. Who would ever think Rune 2 would ever reach even the ankles of Elder Scrolls? That part just sounds way too wack and makes absolutely no sense (and that's outside of Rune 1 being a hack-n-slash action adventure game). And I loved Rune 1 back in 2000.
I feel like that part has to be a big exaggeration, which I feel like muddies the perceived complaint that I see might be a potentially valid complaint. It kinda ruins some of the credibility of it for me, though I imagine it's likely for legal reasons that they go such a route, perhaps to overvalue the game.
 
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Usual suspects thread whining, attempting to derail a thread by attacking OP while projecting their persecution complex and plastic box bias.

Can they simply stick to the topic? Is that too much to ask?

I don't know. Just from a surface level (as I've not yet read much about it) it seems absurd. Who would ever think Rune 2 would ever reach even the ankles of Elder Scrolls? That part just sounds way too wack and makes absolutely no sense (and that's outside of Rune 1 being a hack-n-slash action adventure game). And I loved Rune 1 back in 2000.
I feel like that part has to be a big exaggeration, which I feel like muddies the perceived complaint that I see might be a potentially valid complaint. It kinda ruins some of the credibility of it for me, though I imagine it's likely for legal reasons that they go such a route, perhaps to overvalue the game.

Embelishment is always part of lawsuits. Shoot for the moon, settle for what you want. The game is very similar though so it targets the same demographic. Zero sum game for disposable income of said demographic.
 
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Tschumi

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I dunno about torpedoing Rune, but the company going out of business, reforming and getting bought out the day after release is a pretty smoky, smoky gun.
 
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Arkam

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I mean.... from that one side's account it definitely is giving me Infinity Ward/Respawn/EA/Activision flashbacks. Does paint them as poaching talent in an underhanded way. BUt again that is based on what is shown here.

"This lawsuit seeks redress for fraud and the intentional sabotage of two video games, Rune II and Oblivion Song, perpetrated by one of the most infamous conglomerates in the video game industry against an emerging threat to their empire " LOL Good stuff.
 

FranXico

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What does MS have to do with this? I always wondered what the hell happened with Rune 2 but never looked it up. This is pretty interesting stuff.
The lawsuit concerns something that happened long before the acquisition, yes. This is not Microsoft's fault.
 

Stuart360

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Yes its true. I was following this news at the time as i was a big fan of the first Rune. The talk at the time was that it was more Human Head in the worng than Bethesda, with Human Head basically broke, and flogged themselves off to Bethesda behind the back of the Rune 2 publishers, the day of Rune 2 launching. The game was in a right state, and Human Head abandoned it and left the publishers to pick up the pieces.
Awful really.
 
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You guys are taken this out of proportion. This case start before Microsoft get Bethesda.

Microsoft doesn't even own Zenimax/Bethesda officially until next year I think..... This could get settled between now and then without MS official involvement at all. Some posters just seeing the ghost of their shadows everywhere they look.
 
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Metnut

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These guys will fit in under Microsoft. They can take advantage of Microsoft’s high priced attorneys which have a lot of experience with antitrust and anticompetitive lawsuits.
 
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KungFucius

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Ok a huge conspiracy to do what make a shitty game suck? Mismanagement happens. Maybe they can get some compensation for incompetence, but to claim that Bethesda wanted to kill this game is bizarre. If anything a successful Skyrim clone would keep gamers interested in the genre. There hasn't been a TES game for nearly a decade and wont be for the better part of another one.
 
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Another D'Ghost thread, another anti-MS article.

Keep it up.
The best part is the Yes voters list. It's a who's who of SonyGAF, to a man.

These threads are so incredibly transparent.
Incredible how the usual suspects manage to turn a thread like this into some anti-Microsoft crusade when reading the article will show you Microsoft is only mentioned in the very last sentence in regards to the recent acquistion of Bethesda studios.

It's amazing the mods don't take care of these ^^ rats who wank themselves silly at stinking up threads with their anti-MS bullshit/pro-SonyGAF bullshit.
 
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eyesabitdull

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I'm amazed how this thread is somehow being spun into an Anti-MS thread by its participants.

This a Bethesda/Zenimax story and how they screwed over another studio - how is this any sort of viewpoint related to MS?

On topic though:

This is really not surprising after the Prey 2 debacle. Bethesda/Zenimax can be pretty darn ruthless.
 
Dec 29, 2018
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How on earth are some people seeing this as an "anti Xbox" thread?

What's wrong with you guys, would you like some latte with your soy?
Hopefully the mods pull their finger out their asses. It's as blatant attempts at thread derailment I've ever seen.