Bethesda and Interplay Reach Fallout Settlement: The Bigger Man Wins, Literally

Multi-million-dollar litigation never changes.

All rights to the Fallout series have been acquired by Bethesda Softworks following years of litigation between the Elder Scrolls developer and Interplay, a smaller publisher that had a hand in the first two games in the post-apocalyptic series and its Tactics spinoff. We first reported that a settlement had been reached last week when the two parties announced it during a hearing recess.

Details weren’t available at the time, but it looks like Bethesda’s parent company, Zenimax Media, is paying Interplay $2 million and Interplay will have until Dec. 31, 2013 to distribute and capitalize on Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics, which it originally co-developed and released for the PC with now-defunct Black Isle Studios.

Bethesda purchased rights to the Fallout brand in 2007 just before starting work on Fallout 3. Here’s the basic course of events that followed:

  • Bethesda and Zenimax Media purchase the Fallout IP for $5.75 million. Interplay retains “elements” of the series to develop an MMO based on the property, provided it can raise $30 million for development and begin “full-scale development” on the project by April 2009.
  • Bethesda files a suit alleging neither condition is met and sues Interplay.
  • Interplay counter-sues for $15 million and claims that it should earn royalties from the sales of Fallout 3, which released to critical acclaim and high sales in 2008. Interplay wins in District Court and Bethesda takes its case to the U.S. Court of Appeals, where it again loses in October 2011.
  • As litigation continues, representatives for Bethesda and Interplay reach an agreement during a hearing recess last week, where both parties settle on the terms that each pays its own legal fees and Zenimax Media agrees to a $2 million settlement.

Which brings us to the present. Once the Dec. 31, 2013 deadline rolls around, Interplay will have absolutely no rights to the Fallout brand whatsoever and Bethesda will have full control of the series and all its installments, past, present and future. Looks like Interplay has a little less than two years to squeeze as many caps dollars from those first three games as possible. It was a long, messy ride, but it’s finally over. Now where does that leave Brotherhood of Steel?

Eder Campuzano

Eder is a journalism major at the University of Oregon and copy chief of Flux, the School of Journalism and Communication's flagship magazine. When he's not playing video games or writing about them, Eder enjoys going to concerts, walking the UO campus with his trusty iPod, James McCloud, and climbing steep hills in running shoes. His favorite games include Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country 2, Bioshock and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

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