They are looking for $100 million dollars in damages.
Rune 2 released last year and seemed to have done quite well for itself, but the story surrounding it, sadly, was not a positive one. There was heavy dispute between the publisher and developer of the title, one that saw Ragnarok suing Human Head Studios for the game’s source code and assets, a lawsuit in which they ultimately won and have continued to try and improve the game. But it seems as if the ride doesn’t stop there, as now the scope of the issues with Rune 2 are allegedly much bigger and involves a pretty big name.
If you don’t recall, eyebrows were raised when the game’s original developer, Human Head Studios, shut down shortly after Rune 2‘s release and reformed as Roundhouse Studios under publisher Bethesda. Well, it seems in the ongoing lawsuit, Ragnarok is alleging that Bethesda and their then parent company, Zenimax (this occurred before the Microsoft buyout) sabotaged the game’s development, forming a new subsidiary with Human Head Studios and ordering those workers to stop all production on Rune 2 as well as purchased all of its equipment before the game’s launch. The details come via GamesIndustry.
“In an act of utter bad faith and contractual breach of confidentiality requirements, Human Head secretly provided Bethesda and ZeniMax with ‘keys’ that permitted it to play a confidential, pre-release version of Rune 2. This enabled Bethesda and ZeniMax to see for themselves the threat that Rune 2 posed to their hit franchise, Skyrim/Elder Scrolls.
“Two weeks prior to launch of Rune 2, ZeniMax secretly formed a new subsidiary, Roundhouse Studios LLC, and used that company to purchase all of Human Head’s equipment and take over its leases. That equipment contained Plaintiffs’ trade secrets, the source code and materials for Rune 2 and Oblivion Song. In that same time frame, in order to complete a de facto merger, ZeniMax arranged to have all employees dismissed from Human Head and hired by ZeniMax.”
To add to all of this, even though Ragnarok did get the source code back eventually as mentioned above, they state in the lawsuit, “the assets that ultimately were transferred were incomplete and unusable. Indeed, it appears as if Defendants with malicious intent deliberately organized the assets in such a way as to ensure they were as indecipherable and unusable as possible.” They are seeking damages no less than $100 million.
It’s quite the story, and who knows how that will shake out. Bethesda is now fully owned by Microsoft even if all of this was alleged to happen well before that acquisition. How that will or won’t affect this is anyone’s guess. Either way, Rune 2 is available now on PC via the Epic Games Store with a Steam release set to come next month. We’ll keep you updated as more details trickle down.