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Gaming, Music

Brutal Legend Lawsuit

For those about to rock — we sue you! (Image: Electronic Arts)

Last month Activision filed a lawsuit against a San Francisco company to stop the release of its video game Brutal Legend; now Double Fine Productions has counter-sued, claiming the makers of Guitar Hero can’t stand a little battle of the bands.

Brutal Legend, set for release in October, stars actor-musician Jack Black “as a heavy-metal roadie transported to a mythical ancient world to fight evil,” as described by The Associated Press.

It’s a long story. Double Fine started developing the game for Vivendi Universal, which was acquired by Activision last year. That publisher killed the game — Double Fine’s suit claims it’s because efforts to turn the game into a Guitar Hero installment failed — but development continued for rival publisher Electronic Arts.

It’s also a familiar story: Fans of the graphic novel Watchmen were rather blue for a while last year when Fox sued to halt the release of Warner Bros.’ film adaptation, claiming they still had the movie rights from a long-forgotten deal. Hardball was played, but in the end settlements were made and the screenings began as scheduled.

The outcome of this case could be different. Activision has something very real and very valuable with its Guitar Hero franchise, which has struck a chord with gamers of all ages and experience levels. And the business world is a more savage place than it was even a year ago: Everyone is circling the wagons and focusing on their core strengths, and that means defending — sometimes bitterly — what is yours.

Stay tuned.

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