Crytek sues Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium, alleging copyright infringement

    
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Update: We’ve updated with CIG’s official statement to us below.

Crytek is suing Cloud Imperium Games and Roberts Space Industries, the companies behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen.

In documents filed with the California Central District Court yesterday, Crytek alleges that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets – specifically, Squadron 42.

“Crytek has not been compensated for Defendants’ unlicensed use of Crytek technology in the Squadron 42 game, and has been substantially harmed by being deprived of that compensation, which would ordinarily include a substantial up-front payment as well as a substantial royalty on game sales,” plaintiffs argue.

Furthermore, Crytek accuses CIG of deleting Crytek logos in marketing materials and splash screens around the same time studio head Chris Roberts began calling the game’s engine Star Engine rather than CryEngine, which itself was allegedly a breach of the original licensing agreement.

Crytek has demanded “all direct damages (estimated to be in excess of $75,000), indirect damages, consequential damages (including lost profits), special damages, costs, fees, and expenses incurred by reason of Defendants’ breach of contract and copyright infringement” as well as a cut of the profit, punitive damages, and a permanent injunction against CIG’s use of CryEngine.

Squadron 42, you’ll recall, has been repeatedly delayed. CIG had promised a detailed status report on this game later this month.

We have reached out to Cloud Imperium for comment, recognizing that the company probably will not do so given pending litigation.

In related news, Polygon has a piece up today alleging that CIG has dragged its feet on refunding a backer’s $25,000 in pledges. CIG declined to comment on most of Polygon’s story.

Source: Scribd. With thanks to DK and Cotic.
Update: CIG has issued the following statement to Massively OP:

“We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court. CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. 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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Joe Blobers

Update. We are now 21 days after this new “drama”. CIG has now answered to Crytek lawsuit.

Here are all the filed documents:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1mPjfXrjAf9RUq3_5cJgd-hF-I5XoCQta

Of course, that is not the end of the story. Crytek will obviously claim that breach of contract are real…. but I can’t resist to copy Voroxpete’s comments:

Highlights:

* CryTek attempted to sue RSI even though RSI didn’t actually exist when CIG negotiated the original agreement. They only created that company a few years later as a publicity arm for Star Citizen.
* CryTek tried to accuse Ortwin of not recusing himself even though he actually got a waiver from CryTek before negotiating the agreement. Owned.
* CryTek never showed the court the actual agreement they claim CIG violated, because it flat out disproves all of their claims.
* The agreement clearly states that CIG can use CryEngine for both Star Citizen and Squadron 42. Slam dunk.
* The claim that CIG has some kind of duty to only use CryEngine and nothing else is basically total bullshit, and really obvious bullshit at that. Like, we’re talking “A first year law student could spot that this case has no merit” levels of bullshit. CryTek are asking the court to ignore almost a century of established law in order to accept their interpretation of “exclusive”.
* As any sane person would expect, the whole “removing CryTek logos and copyright notices” thing is ridiculous because they only took them off after they stopped using CryEngine.

In short, CIG have unleashed the Ortwin. CryTek got rekt.

In short, we see the reason why the complaint was amended to list everything as being done ‘intentionally’… Then CIG goes and drops a metric ass-ton (that’s bigger than an Imperial ass-ton) of case-law into why that wont fly…. :)

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CasualSlacks

Speculation is fun, but I’m fine with waiting to see what happens. I’m a backer; I’m not particularly worried.

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Bluxy

this thread tho
certainly brings you all out
there are other games than star citizen you know

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Armsman

Yes, and those games get articles on MOP too when they get news – but you yourself choose to click and read this article on Star Citizen here and make a comment as well.

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Bluxy

as a matter of causation,

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Mikka Hansen

shut up, Chris! you got a free ticket to shut down the project and blame someone else!

what an out-of-jail card for someone that has scammed countless people with nothing but empty promises

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Jonny Sage

Nothing? There is a playable Alpha right now. I literally just opened the launcher to confirm I wasnt dreaming

Capture.JPG
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Mikka Hansen

so if I promise you the moon but deliver you a pebble, would you say the promise was fulfilled?

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Armsman

What’s playable in SC Alpha 3.0 is hardly ‘a pebble’. It has a lot of the promised mechanics and they continue to expand on it.

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Jonny Sage

Youre moving the goalposts. You said “nothing but empty promises”. They delivered far more than nothing. Many many pebbles, which one day may add up to the moon.

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Jeff Weideman

Lump of coal for Christmas I bet.

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socontrariwise

I’m not a lawyer so the questions that come to mind are:
1) Can you force someone to use your engine if the GLA says you would do so exclusively – and you later decided to drop it and use another?
2) Can you be sued for damage if your product never went live? I assume crowdfunding for a standalone-but-companion game is a problem if they used the CryEngine for S42 while asking for money?
3) Did they scratch out the watermarks and logos or such prior to switching to lumberyard internally and can CryTek prove the timepoint? Because the timepoint of announcement isn’t necessarily the same as the timepoint of the switch.

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socontrariwise

Reading a few of the comments here brings up another questions: If CIG uses the CryEngine for the single player version (does that still have the logo’s?) and Lumberyard for the Star Citizen online version, they are not in breach of the GLA as described by CT, are they?

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Skyrant

Read again: Star Citizen is the game CryTek gave CIG a license for. SQ42 is the second game they have no license for. Star Citizen was the Kickstarter game.

arandomusertoo
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arandomusertoo

If you read the Kickstarter campaign, SQ42 was always considered a part of it…

Under the headline “The Reasons You’ll Want to Play Star Citizen” is the following bullet point:

“Squadron 42 – A Wing Commander style single player mode, playable OFFLINE if you want”

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syberghost

“Was” is the key word, as it’s now sold separately.

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Dystopiq

How is Crytek going to afford attorneys when they can’t even pay their own people. This smells of desperation.

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Mario Marques

If that’s the case, they wouldn’t ask for only 75k.

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Skyrant

It’s hilarious how people that can’t even read properly think they have to make comments.

(estimated to be in excess of $75,000)

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Baemir

“In excess of” usually means more or less that amount.

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Adrian Brown

No it does not. In excess of simply means more than, above or beyond this amount. Good grief.

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Baemir

Only on paper. In the real world people use that expression to make a number sound higher than it is.

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Estranged

Cause the attorneys think it is a solid case.

April-Rain
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April-Rain

I hope this goes to a jury in court as requested it will be +10 entertainment-

already a new twist- The Crytek and Star Citizen feud is getting more complicated

Woetoo
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Woetoo

Opinion seems to be that the complaint at only 15 pages is the bare minimum to continue, and that’s to nudge CIG towards an out of court settlement. Seems you won’t get your court drama fix.

As to “getting more complicated”, they are muddying the waters by bringing up Ortwyn Freyermuth’s history in the complaint – when the reality it’s inconceivable they failed to notice he was someone they’d dealt with before and didn’t raise the matter whilst they drew up the Game Licence Agreement. If they signed the GLA in full knowledge of who was negotiating it, then they can hardly call foul now.

The only way they get a pass is if Freyermuth deliberately hid his involvement. Seems a side issue though.

Same as when they brought up that Carl Jones negotiated the deal from CryTek’s side and subsequently went to work for CIG. Unless CIG were talking (or hinting very hard) to him that a job was on the table for him BEFORE the GLA was signed, then it’s largely irrelevant to a copyrights/breach of contract case. CryTek might have cause to review Jones’ employment contract – but that’s entirely separate from this matter.

Edit: I mistakenly mixed up Freyermuth’s and Jone’s employment history. I *think* it’s right now ;-p

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Adrian Brown

They brought Freyermuth’s relationship up so he cannot hide behind attorney-client privilege. He is considered a material participant as he is also Roberts’ business partner. Note that they said his conflict of interest was never resolved. If it goes to discovery I suspect we will get details of the entire process. I suspect neither party is a saint in all this. This is serious though. Skadden does not take up meritless lawsuits.

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Darren Curtis

“We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court. CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.”

I just read CIG just lied. :-|

Chris Roberts as He wrote:

“Lumberyard and StarEngine are both forks from exactly the SAME build of CryEngine.”

Source 1

Source 2

“Amazon Lumberyard is a free cross-platform triple-A game engine developed by Amazon and based on the architecture of CryEngine, which was licensed from Crytek in 2015.”

Amazon secretly paid $50 million to get a license for Crytek’s CryEngine technology. “to design Lumberyard”

Source 3

Annndddd they’re sued, pay up lairs!!!

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primal

he hasnt lied actually. lumberyard and starengine are cryengine 3.8, that was the last build before they released cryengine 5.

difference is amazon paid to get the cryengine tech and could modify and more importantly distribute it freely as there own game engine. CIG would not be able to create there own version and be able to sell it for use to other people.

its something like this

“CIG has the AAA License, which would’ve cost around $1 million + support package.

Said license does not allow source code sharing, and CryEngine branding must be displayed in CIG videos and the splash screen. Renaming the engine is not allowed.

Moving away from a license and purchasing the source code for renaming + commercial distribution would require something similar to Amazon’s $70 million deal they have with Crytek (see Lumberyard).

Edit: I’m well aware that CIG “own” the source code, that’s the whole point of the AAA license. However that source code is still covered by a licensing agreement.”

“The $1 million license is buying the source code. It’s akin to branching off the engine once and then saying “you have full rights to modify this branch and create your game. Any modifications you make, you own”. For a long time, that was the only way to get access to the source.

However said source code usage is still covered under a licensing agreement. It’s pretty obvious they’re still under a license when there’s CryEngine branding present in the game and on videos.”

The main thing would be them switching over to lumberyard cus its the same base version of the game but is essentially a competitors version of the same thing

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Pål Einar Jensen

This is going to make Project Copernicus look like a massive success.

Its the players that (pre)paid for a game that might not even get a release I feel sorry for.

I really, really hope this ends well for all involved.

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Space Captain Zor

I swear on my pretty pink bonnet if this screws with next weeks SQ42 stream I’m gonna be irritated.

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shear

They might take this as an opportunity to not do it regardless whether or not is screws with it.

I genuinely don’t think they have anything to show for it, there was ample opportunity to show stuff from SQ42 and they didn’t.

Christmas stream is not as big as Gamescom or Citcon so the news on SQ 42 would be just as underwhelming too.

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Space Captain Zor

You have to look at SQ42 like anything normally developed behind a curtain. It’s a single player story, a narrative, nearly a movie for all intents and purposes. The most you should hope for are the handful of teasers/trailers until it finally gets released just like a movie coming to theaters. They just won’t show off the behind-the-scenes of something like that the same way they will for Star Citizen except for certain instances that won’t betray or spoil the story. If it were a multiplayer only game, this would be different.

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shear

Oh no, I agree but they could show plenty of stuff from trailers to mocap being done to bits of cut scenes to tidbits of missions.

But nothing at all? I firmly believe they have nothing done for SQ 42. They probably have the story and all that sorted but nothing tangible for the actual game. I mean for crying out loud man it’s going onto 6 years and we are talking about a singleplayer game here. Just my take on it.

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primal

yeah but its using pretty much the same tech on the PU side though and with them wanting to use the procedural planets for the single player to they have to wait for all that code to be done to

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Space Captain Zor

I think “nothing” is inaccurate. They have shown little bits and pieces from tech features to gameplay systems to animation to cutscenes and the unfinished Morrow Tour, it’s just few and far between.

Most recently was the render to texture stuff they showed off pieces of from what looked like a UEE captial ship interior and the Shubin mining platform, all clearly pieces from SQ42.

6 years developing 2 games, mind you. Still, 6 years is nothing special in and of itself in game development. Look around you can find plenty of examples of longer development cycles of perfectly successful games.

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shear

Oh I agree six years to develop is not unheard of, but they could show trailers for crying out loud just so people who are only interested in SQ 42 would be fed something but they show very little of it, which leads me to believe there is very little of it.

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zeko_rena

Wait there is a SQ42 stream and I have not been informed personally by Chris Roberts himself?!

Sweet I shall have to find date / time and hope it isn’t at too crazy hours in my little corner of the world, thanks for the info :)

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Space Captain Zor

see my comment up above

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Space Captain Zor

Almost as if on cue, whew! This just came in the mail

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 2.52.15 PM.png
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Armsbend

They have to bubblegum some shit together to start building a case. Any moron will see through that one.