Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oh Activison, why must you be so eeeevil?

I've been quite looking forward to seeing this fall's DJ console games compete head to head, as they both seem different enough from each other to appeal to different types of music fan and/or gamer. But did Activision -- who publish GH, and therefore cannot be totally evil, right? -- really buy out a rival developer to make sure that its DJ Hero will be the only contender? What's going on, Gamestop?

Now yet another company is taking the Guitar Hero and Call of Duty publisher to court. Tuesday evening, Scratch DJ Game LLC, publisher of the forthcoming Scratch: The Ultimate DJ, filed a legal action accusing Activision of various misdeeds. The LLC is a joint venture between DVD distributor Genius Products and audio-equipment manufacturer Numark Industries, who commissioned indie shop 7 Studios to develop Scratch to try to break into the rhythm-game market.
[The suit] alleges that "Activision has engaged in intentional interference with contract, breach of contract...and misappropriation of trade secrets obtained from Genius to purchase 7 Studios, which is under contract to develop the much-anticipated new hip-hop video game, Scratch: The Ultimate DJ." (Emphasis added.) The buyout, which had not been publicly announced, is already complete.

The whole case is a mess and it's far from obvious who's right and who's wrong, but it's still disheartening to see corporate shenanigans and lawyers decide what kind of innovation can be possible in music games, as well as in the music business per se. Bring the beat back!

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