Fallout Online, a Massive Multiplayer version of the popular post-nuclear role-playing games, has spent a long time in gestation. Interplay, the original publishers of the series, signaled their intent to create a MMORPG from the material in 2006 – before Bethesda revived the Fallout franchise with the landmark Fallout 3. Since then, the rights to the online game have bobbled back and forth between Interplay and Bethesda with increasing legal acrimony.
Any hope of saddling up with other wasteland wanderers to explore a multiplayer version of Fallout’s vast world has been contingent on the settling of various lawsuits and counter-lawsuits. Unfortunately, those hopes for a multiplayer Fallout have become considerably dimmer in recent days. While Interplay still plans to publish Fallout Online, the company now faces the possibility of bankruptcy.
A financial report for the end of the company’s 2010 fiscal year, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, indicates a net loss of more than $1 million – and an accumulated company deficit of more than $2.5 million. The document paints a grim picture of Interplay’s immediate future, noting that, “We have a history of losses, and may have to further reduce our costs by curtailing future operations to continue as a business,” and, “If we fail to deliver our products at the right times, our sales will suffer.”
The filing also directly states that, unless Interplay wins its pending lawsuit with Bethesda, “We may not be able to successfully develop a ‘Fallout’ MMOG.” The possibility of declaring bankruptcy is floated more than once by the report.
While this is certainly distressing news for Interplay stockholders and fans of their games, what exactly does it mean for the future of Fallout Online? Seems like only yesterday we were hearing Fallout Online Beta talk – as well as reporting on potential console ports.
It should be noted that Interplay has faced bankruptcy more than once in its long lifetime as a publisher and developer, so it’s not guaranteed that this latest round of losses will sink the company. It’s also entirely possible that the rights to the creation of a Fallout MMO will legally pass to Bethesda due to extant lawsuits. If so, Interplay’s financial troubles will almost certainly be compounded, and the shape of the resulting game may be entirely different than the one currently under development by Masthead Studios. However, if Interplay retains the rights to the MMO and still has to declare bankruptcy, it’s rather likely that the publisher won’t have the capital to launch what they intend to be a flagship title.
In any event, it looks like fans eager to join their friends in post-apocalyptic adventures will have to wait and watch Interplay’s precarious situation. At this point, it appears unlikely that Interplay will be able to launch the title anytime soon. Whether Bethesda will swoop in and legally complete the game is entirely dependent on ongoing litigation.
Have you been looking forward to Fallout Online? Have you signed up for updates via the game’s official site? Use the comments below to tell us what you think about Interplay’s money troubles and their possible effect on this long-awaited game.