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Activision unwashes its hands of Brutal Legend – but what’s the real steal?

By on February 15, 2009
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According to this Variety report, Activision has thrown a public paddy regarding its ownership of Double Fine’s Brutal Legend.

The game was an unfortunate casualty of the triage that went on following the Activision / Vivendi merger, where Activision upper management trimmed Vivendi’s entire catalogue down to only a handful of titles. Things were looking rocky for Double Fine, but the game was eventually picked up by EA, no doubt a massive feather in the new No. 2 publisher’s quality focused cap.

Activision has kindly informed EA of its legal concerns, namely that the company was still in negotiations with Double Fine (contrary to general understanding), making the recent deal invalid.Clever money seems to be saying Activision isn’t actually interested in the publishing rights, but is leverging what legal standing it has to pry some kind of payment for the property from EA. We can consider throwing a spanner in the works for its major rival to have been an added incentive.

This story’s worth the page space for two reasons. First, even if Acti has no intention of maintaining control of Brutal Legend, it’s nice to see major publishers fighting over an exciting and original IP from a developer whose creativity far outstrips its profitability (see Psychonauts).

Second, Variety’s uncredited EA correspondent is fully into the handbags at dawn motif:

“We doubt that Activision would try to sue. That would be like a husband abandoning his family and then suing after his wife meets a better looking guy.”

Awesome. Buy that man a sandwich.

About Tom Jubert

Tom Jubert is a freelance games writer / narrative designer, best known for his work on the Penumbra series, for which he was nominated for a Writers' Guild Award. His upcoming releases include Lost Horizon and Driver: San Francisco. He was previously the Managing Editor at GameShadow.com, and has also spent time in production.
  • I think of all the games whose lifelines were cut short during the merger, Brutal Legend was probably the most promising (excluding Ghostbusters, which looks incredibly strong in theory, but in practice will struggle) – so it’s fantastic it’s been picked up with (’til now) the minimal of fuss.