Kotaku is reporting that Activision-Blizzard is suing EA to prevent them from releasing Brütal Legend, the fantasy & metal themed action/adventure/RTS game from Tim Schafer, the creator of Psychonauts, as well as a lot of Lucasarts adventure games (including Day of the Tentacle, and the Monkey Island games).

The basis of the lawsuit is that originally Activision-Blizzard had the rights to publish the game, which was being developed by Schafer’s studio Double Fine Productions. However, during the merger with Vivendi-Universal last year, the game was cut loose, along with the upcoming  Ghostbusters game and 5o Cent: Blood on the Sand, the latter having already been relased to some critical acclaim, and the former being due for release next year.

This suit has come somewhat out of the blue, as there were no signs that the suit was coming during EA’s press briefing earlier in E3, where some more gameplay footage was shown, as well as announcements that in addition to the game featuring the voice talents of Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, the game would also feature the lead guitarist of the defunct metal band The Runaways -Lita Ford, Motorhead lead singer and bassist (and former Hawkwind bassist) Lemmy Kilmeister as “The Killmaster” – whose skill with the Bass Guitar can heal wounds, and former Black Sabbath lead singer Ozzy Ozbourne as (basically) the Guardian of the Gates Of Hell, and that the game was set to be released October 13th. That said, Activision did express their displeasure when the game went to EA after Activison-Blizzard dropped it.

My opinion:

Activision messed up when they dropped the game. The game is now in the hands of a different publisher, and is looking fantastic – good enough that without seeing major gameplay demos, I’m very interested in playing this game. Activision-Blizzard, I suspect, has recognized the major amount of buzz surrounding this and, much as Fox did with Warner Brothers over Watchmen, they’re suing to either prevent the game from coming out, or to get a cut of the profits.  This in turn actually makes EA (of all people) look like the underdog, and Activision-Blizzard look like the bully (especially considering all the profits they’re bringing in from World of Warcraft).

I don’t think Activision is going to say “Whoops, we messed up,” and drop the suit. I do hope that we’ll get a settlement sooner rather than later, one that will allow EA to finish the game, and get it out there (and with the developers still getting the money they’re due.