Crytek last night launched a legal attack against Star Citizen developer CIG, and its parent company RSI, which is helmed by Chris Roberts. Saying the company ‘utterly failed to follow through on those promises.’ in reference to multiple alleged complaints.
The dcoument is lengthy and detailed, including alleged breach of contract and copyright infringement and even suggests that negotiations were compromised by the shifting loyalties of employees that then moved from Crytek to RSI.
Crytek claims that the licensing agreement was ‘extensively negotiated’, on behalf of CIG by co-founders, Ortwin Freyermuth. However, it claims that Freyermuth had also previously represented Crytek in similar negotiations and ‘had confidential information about Crytek’s licensing practices that would unfairly advantage [CIG]. And furthermore, Carl Jones, who negotiated for Crytek would later leave the company for, of course, CIG.
"The GLA contained a critical promise from Defendants that they would not develop the Star Citizen video game using any other video game engines."
Other alleged issues include whether Star Citizen fulfilled its commitments to Crytek in terms of promoting the engine in-game; whether Star Citizen and its single-player campaign Squadron 42 are one game or two seperate titles. And all that is further confused by the game later moving to Amazon’s Lumberyard platform, itself a spin-off of CryEngine.
As the complaint alleges: ‘The GLA contained a critical promise from Defendants that they would not develop the Star Citizen video game using any other video game engines.’
In short, expect this one to run and run. While game developers across the world nervously check their own legal agreements for development platforms and other middleware.
CIG’s response to the complaint is understandably short and to the point. David Swofford at CIG sent MCV the following statement:
"We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court. CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter."
Picking further through the complaint from Crytek, here are the key points in the document.
Crytek claims to be a significant factor in Star Citizen’s success: ‘Crytek invested significant time and expense in creating impressive demonstrations and proofs-of-concept … as a direct result of Crytek’s efforts, the crowdfunding campaign for Star Citizen was a monumental success, raising over 150 million dollars.’
That CIG promised to ‘use the CryEngine game development platform exclusively and to promote that platform within the video game, (ii) to collaborate with Crytek on CryEngine development, and (iii) to take a number of steps to ensure that Crytek’s intellectual property was protected.’
Moving onto the two games or one point it says ‘Defendants to use CryEngine for the development of only one video game.’ And continues: ‘On February 5, 2016, Crytek notified Defendants that their plan to distribute Squadron 42 as a standalone game was not covered by the GLA’s license, because the GLA did not grant Defendants a license to embed CryEngine in any game other than Star Citizen.’
For more on the ongoing development of the epic space title read our interview with Chris Roberts from CIG.