Activision Says Valve and Epic Can't Make Destiny

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Activision Says Valve and Epic Can't Make Destiny

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The Activision/Bungie contract has some really weird details.

We got our first glimpse at what the Activision/Bungie teamup might bring earlier, when the ongoing Infinity Ward court case unearthed documents revealing that Bungie was contracted to produce a sci-fi/fantasy shooter series code-named "Destiny". Among other things, the contract said that Bungie was on the hook to produce eight games - four "Destiny" games every other year in 2013, with four "Comet" expansions to fill the gaps.

Develop Online went through the 24-page contract to lay out all the details in layman-speak. Most of it is business talk: Bungie is entitled to more royalties depending on the game's Metacritic score and how well it sells, for one. Bungie also has full control over the "Destiny" IP and retains publishing rights if Activision backs out, (smart move). But there are some genuinely odd stipulations in the contract as well.

For instance, Bungie and Activision must provide each other full lists of all "Easter Eggs" hidden in the game, before and after the certification process, respectively. I can understand Activision wanting a full list from the Easter-Egg-loving Bungie for when it submits the game to be rated, but why does Activision have to submit a list back to Bungie afterwards - all I can think is that it would be to tell the developer which Eggs didn't make the rating cut.

Another portion of the contract says that Bungie employees are entitled to two and only two Activision games per year as a gift, and that the studio will be given exactly 1,000 copies of "Destiny" to do with as it pleases to promote the game. Bungie must shoot for a "Teen" ESRB rating, and must patch any critical bugs in the game within a month of release. These, at least, make more sense.

The weirdest part of the contract, though, is that Activision specifically bars Valve Software, Epic Games, and Gearbox Software from developing any "Destiny" or "Comet" "conversions or adaptations." I have no idea why anyone at Activision would think to specify this. Is this a rampant problem in the industry, with Gabe Newell and Cliff Bleszinski sneering at The Man as they make unauthorized expansions to hit FPS titles?

Seriously, if anyone has an explanation for that last part, I'd love to hear it. The only common ground I can find is that like Bungie, Valve, Epic and Gearbox are all independent studios that aren't currently owned by any publisher. Maybe Activision is worried that the big indies will team up to make a Voltron-esque supergroup.

Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, you can check out the weird and mundane details of the Activision/Bungie deal here.

Source: Develop

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Maybe the legal department over at Activision got a hold of some primo drugs and were in the middle of a paranoia riddled LSD binge while they were writing out the fine details.

My best guess is they mean Halo Wars style spin-off titles or something. But the wording is so strange that it makes me think they've stipulated "If anyone is going to adapt it into a film, just make sure it isn't Epic, Gearbox or Valve." which can't be what they mean.

Are the two activision games per employee or for the whole studio?

John Funk:
Activision specifically bars Valve Software, Epic Games, and Gearbox Software from developing any Destiny or Comet "conversions or adaptations." I have no idea why anyone at Activision would think to specify this.

Sounds to me like it refers back to the point that Bungie retains the rights if Activision backs out, and this prevents another publisher from swooping in to finish the project and take the credit.

Capcha: two cents worth

So basically if Activision backs out, they want the franchise to die a horrible withering death rather than let the games see the light of day under another publisher's label.

</two cents worth>

Is this ban against Valve, Epic and Gearbox only enforced while Activision is involved? Id find it fairly petty of Activision to ban co-operation on projects which it has no involvement in anymore.

hudsonzero:
Are the two activision games per employee or for the whole studio?

Per employee. Still a shit deal point if you ask me.

John Funk:
The weirdest part of the contract, though, is that Activision specifically bars Valve Software, Epic Games, and Gearbox Software from developing any Destiny or Comet "conversions or adaptations." I have no idea why anyone at Activision would think to specify this. Is this a rampant problem in the industry, with Gabe Newell and Cliff Bleszinski sneering at The Man as they make unauthorized expansions to hit FPS titles?

I think the reason might be is that they (Bungie, Valve, Epic) are on good terms, and so Activision doesn't want Bungie going out and talking to other studios about getting involved in the series, which could make the deal complicated. Also, since they are big studios free from publisher control that specialise in sci-fi shooter settings, they don't want Bungie taking the easy option and enlisting them to make the expansion while they work on the next game. I'm guessing that the reasoning behind that would along the lines of a feeling of control, where you know what your company is doing and when. Infinity Ward or another studio may have gone to another studio for help at some point.

The only real thing that bothers me is the "Easter Egg" list. Why does that really matter? Are people so paranoid in Activision that they think Bungie might be trying to say naughty things to Activision in hidden parts of the game.

Calumon: 1'000 games? Can we have some?

Two things here.

One, the adaptation is for things like spinoffs ala halo wars, or mods.

Two, the Voltron thing would be awesome, as long as CliffyB doesn't Form the mouth, or Gabe doesn't form the stomach.

gigastar:
Is this ban against Valve, Epic and Gearbox only enforced while Activision is involved? Id find it fairly petty of Activision to ban co-operation on projects which it has no involvement in anymore.

hudsonzero:
Are the two activision games per employee or for the whole studio?

Per employee. Still a shit deal point if you ask me.

I can't even think of two Activision games I'd take for free. And I don't have the critical eye of a developer to remind what "quality" is. ...actually, that cuts both ways. Nevermind then.

Johnson McGee:

John Funk:
Activision specifically bars Valve Software, Epic Games, and Gearbox Software from developing any Destiny or Comet "conversions or adaptations." I have no idea why anyone at Activision would think to specify this.

Sounds to me like it refers back to the point that Bungie retains the rights if Activision backs out, and this prevents another publisher from swooping in to finish the project and take the credit.

So basically if Activision backs out, they want the franchise to die a horrible withering death rather than let the games see the light of day under another publisher's label.

So then why doesnt it ban EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Namco, Squeenix or Sega from stepping in?

Andy of Comix Inc:

I can't even think of two Activision games I'd take for free. And I don't have the critical eye of a developer to remind what "quality" is. ...actually, that cuts both ways. Nevermind then.

I can, but they are about 8 years old.

gigastar:

Johnson McGee:

John Funk:
Activision specifically bars Valve Software, Epic Games, and Gearbox Software from developing any Destiny or Comet "conversions or adaptations." I have no idea why anyone at Activision would think to specify this.

Sounds to me like it refers back to the point that Bungie retains the rights if Activision backs out, and this prevents another publisher from swooping in to finish the project and take the credit.

So basically if Activision backs out, they want the franchise to die a horrible withering death rather than let the games see the light of day under another publisher's label.

So then why doesnt it ban EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Namco, Squeenix or Sega from stepping in?

They only listed their most direct competitors? They didn't think those companies would be interested? Someone at Activision has a grudge?

I can only guess.

Even Activision doesn't want to give Valve any excuses for putting off Half Life.

Matthew94:

Andy of Comix Inc:

I can't even think of two Activision games I'd take for free. And I don't have the critical eye of a developer to remind what "quality" is. ...actually, that cuts both ways. Nevermind then.

I can, but they are about 8 years old.

What about Singularity? That was a pretty decent game that feel under the extremely massive umbrella of Activision?

Anyways, whatever this whole move by Activision seems more petty then anything else or is that just me?

Brian Hendershot:

Matthew94:

Andy of Comix Inc:

I can't even think of two Activision games I'd take for free. And I don't have the critical eye of a developer to remind what "quality" is. ...actually, that cuts both ways. Nevermind then.

I can, but they are about 8 years old.

What about Singularity? That was a pretty decent game that feel under the extremely massive umbrella of Activision?

Anyways, whatever this whole move by Activision seems more petty then anything else or is that just me?

Yeah, it was fun but I can think of more than 2 Activision games I would rather have instead of it.

gigastar:

Johnson McGee:

John Funk:
Activision specifically bars Valve Software, Epic Games, and Gearbox Software from developing any Destiny or Comet "conversions or adaptations." I have no idea why anyone at Activision would think to specify this.

Sounds to me like it refers back to the point that Bungie retains the rights if Activision backs out, and this prevents another publisher from swooping in to finish the project and take the credit.

So basically if Activision backs out, they want the franchise to die a horrible withering death rather than let the games see the light of day under another publisher's label.

So then why doesnt it ban EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Namco, Squeenix or Sega from stepping in?

Because Valve, Epic Games and Gearbox Software aren't on the dark side yet.

Johnson McGee:

gigastar:

Johnson McGee:

Sounds to me like it refers back to the point that Bungie retains the rights if Activision backs out, and this prevents another publisher from swooping in to finish the project and take the credit.

So basically if Activision backs out, they want the franchise to die a horrible withering death rather than let the games see the light of day under another publisher's label.

So then why doesnt it ban EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Namco, Squeenix or Sega from stepping in?

They only listed their most direct competitors? They didn't think those companies would be interested? Someone at Activision has a grudge?

I can only guess.

If direct competition was the criteria then Activision must be pretty concieted to not consider at least EA to be a direct competitor. Plus the Japanese publishers are getting less predictable year on year, so they could step in on this given a chance.

I like how activision is already running the new game into the ground by having bungie put a new one out every year for 8 years. (yes I know a new new one is only every other year but its got a stipulation for an expansion whatever thing in between.)

Xanthious:
Maybe the legal department over at Activision got a hold of some primo drugs and were in the middle of a paranoia riddled LSD binge while they were writing out the fine details.

So, what you're saying is, they're all on nar-Koticks?

Sorry. Sometimes I just can't help myself.

gigastar:
Is this ban against Valve, Epic and Gearbox only enforced while Activision is involved? Id find it fairly petty of Activision to ban co-operation on projects which it has no involvement in anymore.

hudsonzero:
Are the two activision games per employee or for the whole studio?

Per employee. Still a shit deal point if you ask me.

What I want to know is, besides COD, what Activision games would people want?

Also, if anyone at Bungie buys a bag of Skittles, 2/3rds of the Red, Orange, Yellow and Green flavors must be divided with Activision, but not Purple cause no one likes that one.

What I find slightly more worrying is that Activision is now Ingraining it's 1 game a year for any franchise it owns or wishes to start.

It just seems like a really really really bad sign that whatever Destiny might be it's basically going to be COD with a new coat of paint.

A "Teen" rating?


That kinda sucks, considering you can do so much more with the "Mature" rating. It's a shame that Bungie has to work under all these stupid restrictions, but that's Activision for ya. I'm just hoping Bungie will be able to make a good game out of all this.

Huh, I immediately thought of Tenacious D and Tribute.

2:04

Embedding the timestamp doesn't seem to work.

gigastar:

Johnson McGee:

John Funk:
Activision specifically bars Valve Software, Epic Games, and Gearbox Software from developing any Destiny or Comet "conversions or adaptations." I have no idea why anyone at Activision would think to specify this.

Sounds to me like it refers back to the point that Bungie retains the rights if Activision backs out, and this prevents another publisher from swooping in to finish the project and take the credit.

So basically if Activision backs out, they want the franchise to die a horrible withering death rather than let the games see the light of day under another publisher's label.

So then why doesnt it ban EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Namco, Squeenix or Sega from stepping in?

Because who's going to accept a contract that gives you full rights to your game back, but no way to actually make it? Knowing lawyers, it probably started as a full black-out to open negotiations but slowly got chiseled away to the people Activision was most afraid of making a better product. But, honestly, as long as the company just gives Bungie the right amount on the checks? The game's gonna be awesome. I know I'll be buying it, whatever it is.

Maybe the clause about not working with valve has something to do with dota 2 and to stop the legal dispute like this in the future. Or Activision does not want it's employees to see what working at valve is like compare to Activision.

pyrojam321moo:

gigastar:

Johnson McGee:

Sounds to me like it refers back to the point that Bungie retains the rights if Activision backs out, and this prevents another publisher from swooping in to finish the project and take the credit.

So basically if Activision backs out, they want the franchise to die a horrible withering death rather than let the games see the light of day under another publisher's label.

So then why doesnt it ban EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Namco, Squeenix or Sega from stepping in?

Because who's going to accept a contract that gives you full rights to your game back, but no way to actually make it? Knowing lawyers, it probably started as a full black-out to open negotiations but slowly got chiseled away to the people Activision was most afraid of making a better product. But, honestly, as long as the company just gives Bungie the right amount on the checks? The game's gonna be awesome. I know I'll be buying it, whatever it is.

Hold on now, its fine to have wishful thinking, but even if its Bungie its not safe to assume that a brand new project that probably isnt even out of concept yet will become a critical success.

Remember, Activision hasnt pulled the least of its legal scumbaggery yet.

Yes, because Activision has so much say in what Valve and Epic are allowed to make with their own resources.

WanderingFool:

gigastar:
Is this ban against Valve, Epic and Gearbox only enforced while Activision is involved? Id find it fairly petty of Activision to ban co-operation on projects which it has no involvement in anymore.

hudsonzero:
Are the two activision games per employee or for the whole studio?

Per employee. Still a shit deal point if you ask me.

What I want to know is, besides COD, what Activision games would people want?

I'll take Transformers fall of cybertron for me and Skylanders giants for my nephew.

This contract is weird. Also, Bungie should have known better than to get into bed with those scumbags considering that they're expecting them to churn out a game/expansion a year.

I'm kind of confuse about that last bit. Is it prohibitive of any of the conversions or adaptations ever? Or is that just in respect to as long as Bungie is contracted by Activision? Which if it's the former, that means Bungie doesn't reserve full IP rights. If it's the latter, I would just have to "duh" to them. Is that not the point of them contacting with Activision.

gigastar:

So then why doesnt it ban EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Namco, Squeenix or Sega from stepping in?

Because the companies they listed are highly competent at making shooters?

I have no idea...there's clearly something more going on behind the scenes than they're letting on if they're being THAT specific.

The part that got me is "must patch any critical bugs in the game within a month of release". I'd much prefer you know, "game must release without any critical bugs". I still remember the days before patching and how companies had to pretty much get it perfect the first time. Seems like a clause for the current lazy "we can always fix it later" generation of developers who want to release and move onto their next project ASAP. I can't help but wonder what would happen if there was an actual "no major bugs or you don't get paid" clause, but I kind of suspect it would mean a lot more serious playtesting and QA and better games, since I really don't think it's an impossible goal to hit given how many titles have been released in the past before patching that worked fine without "critical bugs".

That said my basic thought on the conversions is that they want to maintain as tight a control of the property as possible. If someone else does a conversion. paid or free, there are questions about the ownership of what's in that conversion, which in many cases will add things like new graphics, weapons, elements... etc... to a game. Even if someone doing a conversion doesn't push things legally, being perceived to rip off a mod or conversion can hurt a company's reputation, especially if they don't acknowlege it. There has been a LOT said about these kinds of things over the years, and I'd imagine Activision just doesn't want to open that can of worms.

Let's say someone decides to do a total conversion of the game, similar to what the guys at SCP have done. They add a new gameplay element with a monster that moves quickly and kills you if your too close if your not looking at it constantly (and while your looking at it, it's pretty much harmless), SCP pretty much did that. Now all of a sudden there are questions if the actual developer actually decides to use that without acknowlegement for an actual game, and make money off of what those guys did. This is no big deal when it's fan conversions (which they don't seem to be worried about), but if a company like Valve or Epic gets pissed about something from one of their conversions, right or wrong they could keep the property tied up for years. Having a leg to stand on legally isn't even the most important thing, I mean consider the article just put up here on The Escapist about Epic Vs. Silicon Knights, where SK pretty much got pwned not because of their case but because of an expert they relied on getting deep sixed right off the bat for what are to us some pretty vague reasons, and which might have had more to do with technicalities than the case. I don't presume to know anything there, but if you were Activision, would you want to fight Epic's lawyers? Sure Activision can hire their own bastards, but at that level it's a coin toss since they would both be acting with deep pockets.

Just my theories

Oh and on the easter eggs, all I have to say is "why bother to have them then?". An easter egg can't be awesome and spontaneous if it has to undergo corperate approval. The best easter eggs are the ones aren't planned ahead, and just things the coders decide to do for Lulz when it tickles their fancy at the moment.

vxicepickxv:
or Gabe doesn't form the stomach.

Or the watch.

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