Hasbro Sues Atari Over D&D

Hasbro Sues Atari Over D&D

image

Hasbro has sued Atari over allegations that it has committed fraud and breached the terms of its licensing agreement for the Dungeons & Dragons brand.

Wizards of the Coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro, learned earlier this year that Atari "may have" sub-licensed the Dungeons & Dragons digital game rights to Namco Bandai Partners, a competitor of both Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast. Such a deal is forbidden under the terms of Atari's licensing contract.

"While unfortunate that we had to take this action, it is crucial for us to protect the Dungeons & Dragons brand," said Wizards of the Coast President Greg Leeds. "We have been working for several months now to reach resolution with Atari, and they have left us with no other choice than to pursue legal action."

But in a response to the lawsuit issued to Kotaku, Atari called the lawsuit "meritless" and claimed that Hasbro is alleging the breach of contract simply so it can take back the rights to the D&D brand. "Atari has had a long and rich history with the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, investing millions of dollars into numerous critically acclaimed and commercially successful games that have generated significant revenue for Hasbro," the company said. "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."

Atari signed a ten-year licensing deal with Hasbro in 2007, although given the current legal kerfuffle, that's now looking rather shaky. It's also definitely not the sort of headache Atari needs right now: In August, the company was sued by Turbine over another D&D-related dispute relating to the revamped Dungeons & Dragons Online MMOG.

Source: CNN Money

Permalink

See, if Atari is telling the truth, I will not be even slightly surprised - Wizards of the Coast have been pathologically incapable of doing anything right with D&D ever since they bought it. Letting Planescape die is enough to classify them as beyond all hope of redemption, and they've done way more than that!

The "may have" in a contract alegation is just whacky. What the hell?

I wonder which one of them is the scheming bastards....

It's not going to affect DDO is it? I freakin' love that game. I don't want it to die!

I generally agree with Hasbro/WoTC's management of Dungeons and Dragons has been bad, and I've argued the point before on these forums. However I think Atari has been even worse and WoTC letting Atari have the label was one of the mistakes I feel they made.

I say this because I feel that since the release of 3E pretty much all of the D&D Liscenced games have blown chips (exceptions exist, but are rare), part of that is due to the game changes themselves I feel, and part of that is that it seems since the transfer to 3E they have been using Atari almost exclusively. Atari having done things like cowering in fear over censorship concerns and having released "Temple Of Elemental Evil" under an earlier build. When it has come to a lot of products with the D&D name attached it seems a lot of fanboys/gamers ultimatly wind up in multi-page anti-Atari rants.

As a result I couldn't believe that they formed a long-term partnership with Atari like they did, I have long felt that given the fate of Black Isle/Troika they should have given the liscence to Ubisoft which absorbed SSI. SSI being one of the most successful creators of D&D games (which were state of the art for the time period).

Ideally I think WoTC's best move with be to re-launch "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" with a new edition picking up from 2E and it's myriad options, making "Dungeons and Dragons" the basic label (sort of how there were two versions for a long time). Keep regular D&D mainstream and kiddy friendly, and orient AD&D on the hardcore gaming crowd and intellectuals. Then make a contract with Ubisoft to basically reform SSI at least as a design team assuming they still have most of the employees, and have that team develop the games.

Such have been my thoughts for a while.

Therumancer:
I generally agree with Hasbro/WoTC's management of Dungeons and Dragons has been bad, and I've argued the point before on these forums. However I think Atari has been even worse and WoTC letting Atari have the label was one of the mistakes I feel they made.

I say this because I feel that since the release of 3E pretty much all of the D&D Liscenced games have blown chips (exceptions exist, but are rare), part of that is due to the game changes themselves I feel, and part of that is that it seems since the transfer to 3E they have been using Atari almost exclusively. Atari having done things like cowering in fear over censorship concerns and having released "Temple Of Elemental Evil" under an earlier build. When it has come to a lot of products with the D&D name attached it seems a lot of fanboys/gamers ultimatly wind up in multi-page anti-Atari rants.

As a result I couldn't believe that they formed a long-term partnership with Atari like they did, I have long felt that given the fate of Black Isle/Troika they should have given the liscence to Ubisoft which absorbed SSI. SSI being one of the most successful creators of D&D games (which were state of the art for the time period).

Ideally I think WoTC's best move with be to re-launch "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" with a new edition picking up from 2E and it's myriad options, making "Dungeons and Dragons" the basic label (sort of how there were two versions for a long time). Keep regular D&D mainstream and kiddy friendly, and orient AD&D on the hardcore gaming crowd and intellectuals. Then make a contract with Ubisoft to basically reform SSI at least as a design team assuming they still have most of the employees, and have that team develop the games.

Such have been my thoughts for a while.

'Hardcore' is not coming back, as much as it pains me, and Dragonborn are probably here to stay (oh god...saying that hurt so bad I died a little inside)

They need to focus on modularity so that people can custom tailor their games, WITHOUT releasing a billion books. They also need to refocus on digital media- my dream game is basically D&D for windows with multiplayer like NeverWinterNights that would allow people to create and play their own D&D module's and worlds, with rulesets of their choosing. Meanwhile they can push 4e as their primary brand so they have brand identity to work on the fresher meat.

PS: NWN was awesome. Take NWN - bad singleplayer + more building options for multiplayer = yays

Starke:
The "may have" in a contract alegation is just whacky. What the hell?

Ill say...when did that enter the legal system...

Jaredin:

Starke:
The "may have" in a contract alegation is just whacky. What the hell?

Ill say...when did that enter the legal system...

Wait, they "may have" been negotiationg a distribution deal for asia (I'm guessing (what else would make sense?)), let's all throw a fit?

Seriously, the more I look at it the more what the fucks pile up.

Alternatly, they got the license and then wanted to pass it off!? O.o

Do we even know if these talks that "may have" occured between Atari and Bandai had ANYTHING to do with D&D?

'May Have' does not bode well for any suit, because it cast's doubt before you even begin your case. Beginner's mistake...

I can just imagine them both, mobilizing their vast armies of bloodthirsty lawyers...

"WHOM DO YOU SERVE?!"

"SARUMAN!!!"

Therumancer:
I say this because I feel that since the release of 3E pretty much all of the D&D Liscenced games have blown chips (exceptions exist, but are rare), part of that is due to the game changes themselves I feel, and part of that is that it seems since the transfer to 3E they have been using Atari almost exclusively.

Are you saying 3E was bad, or everything past it (obviously with the exception of 3.5)? I actually liked 3E, and still use its rule set, albeit a customized one.

I'd agree that 4E is an abomination unto the land, however.

The Shade:

Therumancer:
I say this because I feel that since the release of 3E pretty much all of the D&D Liscenced games have blown chips (exceptions exist, but are rare), part of that is due to the game changes themselves I feel, and part of that is that it seems since the transfer to 3E they have been using Atari almost exclusively.

Are you saying 3E was bad, or everything past it (obviously with the exception of 3.5)? I actually liked 3E, and still use its rule set, albeit a customized one.

I'd agree that 4E is an abomination unto the land, however.

And as ugly as we find 4E WotC will stick with it. I'm just glad that 3.5 is still supported (through Paizo's Pathfinder RPG) and that there are other OGL licensed games available. None of which, unfortunately, will see the light of day in computer games due to licensing restrictions. Leaving my CRPG needs to be fulfilled by the Elder Scrolls series and Bioware with it's Dragon Age game...

Dear god how I wish I had the money to drag the legal rights to D&D away from these idiots.

Good to see that any mention of D&D will still lead to edition-warring in a dozen posts. ::sigh::

-- Alex

Alex_P:
Good to see that any mention of D&D will still lead to edition-warring in a dozen posts. ::sigh::

-- Alex

Edition warring?

Everyone seems more or less in agreement.

I actually like 4E's idea's mind you, very videogame translatable, much streamlined. Just borrow some 3.5 skills for more complext stuff, LOST DRAGONKIN AND TIEFLINGS AND DROW XO

I've wanted to try 4E.

Me and my friends use 3.5 right now.

Therumancer:
I generally agree with Hasbro/WoTC's management of Dungeons and Dragons has been bad, and I've argued the point before on these forums. However I think Atari has been even worse and WoTC letting Atari have the label was one of the mistakes I feel they made.

I say this because I feel that since the release of 3E pretty much all of the D&D Liscenced games have blown chips (exceptions exist, but are rare), part of that is due to the game changes themselves I feel, and part of that is that it seems since the transfer to 3E they have been using Atari almost exclusively. Atari having done things like cowering in fear over censorship concerns and having released "Temple Of Elemental Evil" under an earlier build. When it has come to a lot of products with the D&D name attached it seems a lot of fanboys/gamers ultimatly wind up in multi-page anti-Atari rants.

As a result I couldn't believe that they formed a long-term partnership with Atari like they did, I have long felt that given the fate of Black Isle/Troika they should have given the liscence to Ubisoft which absorbed SSI. SSI being one of the most successful creators of D&D games (which were state of the art for the time period).

Ideally I think WoTC's best move with be to re-launch "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" with a new edition picking up from 2E and it's myriad options, making "Dungeons and Dragons" the basic label (sort of how there were two versions for a long time). Keep regular D&D mainstream and kiddy friendly, and orient AD&D on the hardcore gaming crowd and intellectuals. Then make a contract with Ubisoft to basically reform SSI at least as a design team assuming they still have most of the employees, and have that team develop the games.

Such have been my thoughts for a while.

While I don't like everything Atari did with the D&D license either (though with some caveats, I certainly enjoyed NWN and NWN2... and even to a lesser extent stuff like Demon Stone), Hasbro is still responsible for choosing to give Atari exclusive license. It was a foolish decision then, and now they're realizing it and trying to back out of their foolish decision in a decidedly slimy way.

Ubisoft? You may not remember a little disaster called Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor (not to be confused with the old PoR "Gold Box" series you reference). It was one of the first D&D 3E games put out, and was so notoriously buggy that many users had to entirely reinstall Windows after botched attempts to get the game to install and work. Ubisoft lost its chance to keep the D&D license then and probably for a good long time to come. In fact, it's probably not entirely coincidental that Atari got its exclusive D&D license not long after that came out.

As for the "demise of Black Isle/Troika"--many of the key creative minds of Black Isle are still happily working away at Obsidian. And they tried their best with NWN2--considering the restrictions Atari put upon them, and the clunky mess of trying to update an existing engine rather than make a new one like they should have. I've always wondered what they would have come up with without the restrictions they had to work with.

If Atari loses against Hasbro, I don't think the D&D license should be exclusively granted to any one publisher or developer. That way they won't get into this same mess now--just make it so you have to apply for use of the license for one game at a time, and grant it to the people who have the best idea and production standards.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here