Atari Accused of Playing a Rough Game


     MANHATTAN (CN) - A video game company claims Atari breached a licensing agreement for it to develop a new form of "Dungeons & Dragons." Turbine, the plaintiff, develops and operates "massively multiplayer online role-playing games," or MMOs.
     Thousands of players can participate in an MMO and interact with each other simultaneously.
     The complaint in New York County Court alleges that Atari granted Turbine a sublicense to "Dungeons & Dragons" and "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" so that Turbine could develop and operate a subscription-based MMO called "Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach."
     Turbine says it employed "dozens upon dozens of people working hundreds of thousands of hours" to do so. Turbine claims it spent millions of dollars on the franchise and continues to invest money to operate and maintain the service.
     Turbine claims Atari acted unreasonably in its efforts to promote and distribute "DDO: Stormreach," and failed to devote the necessary resources to it. It claims Atari breached the agreements by accepting payments - including future royalty payments - in return for extending their relationship and paving the way for the launch of Turbine's free-to-play "DDO: Unlimited" service, though Atari knew it would not perform its obligations under the agreements and knew it would pretextually seek to declare Turbine in breach of the agreements.
     Turbine claims that Atari's purported "termination" was part of a strategy it conceived prior to the May 13 agreements that it would either terminate Turbine as part of a shakedown, or proceed with termination in bad faith to benefit from its own competing product at Turbine's expense.
     Atari says Turbine invested millions of dollars in developing and promoting the DDO franchise to demand more consideration from Turbine than called for by their agreement.
     And it claims that Atari's purported termination of the license agreement, in addition to threatening Turbine's past investment, threatens the goodwill that Turbine has developed with the thousands of players who play "DDO: Stormreach" and are expected to use the "DDO: Unlimited" service.
     Turbine is represented by Jeffrey Simes at Goodwin Proctor.