Games Meet Metal: Silicon Knights loses lawsuit: Ordered to destroy unsold games

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Silicon Knights loses lawsuit: Ordered to destroy unsold games

A pretty weird day in gaming today as it has been announced that Silicon Knights (SK) have lost their court battle with Epic over the use of the Unreal 3 (U3) engine and has been ordered to destroy any software developed with U3. Before I get into the details of the lawsuit, you will probably want a bit of history.

SK is a Canadian developer behind some pretty significant PC and Console titles. Dark Legions in '94 (PC), Blood Omen: Lecacy of Kain (Playstation) in '96, Eternal Darkness (Gamecube) in '02 and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes (Gamecube) in '04. Some of you may recall that SK's game Too Human was supposed to be a game changer, but it turned into a giant money pit. The game was supposed to be released on the Gamecube for starters, but delay after delay saw SK end their agreement with Nintendo and sign with Microsoft in 2005.

2007 marked the year that SK and Epic began their fued. Too Human was being developed with the U3 engine, but SK wasn't happy with it and wanted Epic to make some modifications for them. SK claimed that Epic was focusing more on Gears of War and withholding an improved version of U3 from all of their customers. SK decided to sue Epic in 2007 on the grounds that Epic failed to "provide a working game engine" causing SK considerable losses. The lawsuit was in place and SK completed Too Human (XBox 360) in '08, X-Men: Destiny (360, PS3, Wii) in '10 and started work on three new titles; all still using the U3 engine.

Federal court allowed SK to take Epic to court with its allegations of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unfair competition, breach of contract, and breach of warranty against the Epic. The two met in court and SK thought the case was in the bag. But a judge saw it differently and Epic ended up winning the case.SK was ordered to pay Epic $4.45 million in July 2012, but the problems are not over for SK.

Already described as "hanging by a thread," it turns out that in addition to the fine, SK has to destroy any unsold copies of Too Human and X-Men: Destiny as well as destroy any software that is currently in development using the U3 Engine. This has to be done by December 10th, 2012. The three future titles that are to be destroy are The Box/Ritualyst, The Sandman, and Siren in the Maelstrom. It has not been said if SK will counter (or even if they can counter) but it seems pretty clear that a once reputable developer is going to shut its doors down for good which has this gamer wondering about the future of Eternal Darkness 2 for the WiiU.

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