Crytek has employed a legendary Wall Street law firm to pursue damages against the developers of perpetually-delayed space-sim Star Citizen.
Crytek claims that Chris Roberts’ Cloud Imperium Games has failed to uphold the terms of their CryEngine licensing agreement and have caused “substantial harm to Crytek” in the process. Additionally, the suit claims that the footage originally pitched to prospective backers for Star Citizen’s record-breaking Kickstarter run was created by Crytek:
Crytek invested significant time and expense in creating impressive demonstrations and proofs-of-concept that were used to persuade the public to contribute financially to a “crowdfunding” campaign to support development of the video game. As a direct result of Crytek’s efforts, the crowdfunding campaign for Star Citizen was a monumental success, raising over 150 million dollars — a record for video game crowdfunding projects.
Afterward, Cloud Imperium Games reportedly made three distinct agreements with Crytek. First, “to use the CryEngine game development platform exclusively and to promote that platform within the video game,” then “to collaborate with Crytek on CryEngine development,” and finally “to take a number of steps to ensure that Crytek’s intellectual property was protected.” Crytek claims CIG “utterly failed to follow through on those promises,” and further, that “their actions and omissions constitute breaches of contract and copyright infringement and have caused substantial harm to Crytek.”
Despite their explicit agreements to the contrary, and a hefty discount on Crytek’s technology, the suit claims:
Defendants knew Crytek’s right to display its trademarks and copyright notices in the Star Citizen video game and related marketing materials was a critical component of the GLA [Game License Agreement]. Yet, by at least September 24, 2016, Defendants’ co-founder Chris Roberts publicly sought to minimize Crytek’s contribution to Star Citizen, stating that ‘we don’t call [the video game engine] CryEngine anymore, we call it Star Engine.’
Shortly thereafter, Defendants removed Crytek trademarks and copyright notices from the Star Citizen video game and related marketing materials in breach of the GLA.
The list goes on (and on). CIG also switched game engines to Amazon’s Lumberyard and split its project into two products with Squadron 42, a single-player campaign originally intended as just one part of a larger experience. Both of these allegedly violate the terms of their agreement with Crytek.
Crytek has retained the services of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a firm that Forbes Senior Editor Daniel Fisher once called “Wall Street’s most powerful law firm.” Their army of over 1,700 attorneys support a firm that advised more than one trillion dollars worth of deals in 2015 alone.
CIG said in response they are “aware” of the lawsuit, but asserts that it “hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard.” In their statement, they concluded that “this is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.”
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