While Dungeons & Dragons grognards trade blows over the direction the pen-and-paper game has taken through its fourth edition, the RPG franchise is also flashpoint for another high-stakes legal battle in the video game industry. MMO developer Turbine will take publisher Atari to court over the D&D licensing agreement forged between the two companies back in 2003.
Turbine had been responsible for realizing Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach. Now the MMO operator believes Atari had fallen short of its "publishing and distribution obligations" even after D&D Online's launch in 2006. Atari is further blamed for poor handling of the game's distribution in Europe after Turbine took upon itself much of North America's operations, leading to an estimated $13 million USD in lost franchise revenue.
The two sides hoped to rebuild D&D's MMO prospects earlier this year through a new free-to-play model, leading to a licensing agreement renewal valid until May 2016. However, Turbine is claiming that while accepting royalty payments, Atari is in fact intending to free itself from any obligations to the developer. Outside of threatening to terminate its agreement "in an effort to extort more money from Turbine", Atari was also backing an upcoming D&D MMORPG based on the Neverwinter Nights setting with internal studio Cryptic at the helm.
Confident that Atari is treading the path of chaotic evil against Turbine, the developer is now seeking to recover $30 million USD in losses stemming from "breach and wrongful conduct."