NEWS - Monday, July 12, 2004

Bethesda Takes Over Fallout Franchise

Role-playing gamers everywhere got a jolt of adrenaline today when Bethesda Softworks announced that it has licensed the Fallout franchise. Under the terms of the deal, Bethesda acquired exclusive international rights to publish Fallout games on PCs, consoles, handhelds, and other media from its current holder, troubled publisher Interplay. Interplay will still retain ownership of the Fallout intellectual property. "We’re extremely excited about this opportunity and what it means both for Bethesda and for Fallout fans around the world,” said Vlatko Andonov, president of Bethesda Softworks. "Fallout is one of the great RPG franchises. Millions of Fallout games have been sold worldwide, and fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of a Fallout 3 title." Although Bethesda’s first Fallout game will be called Fallout 3, it is unlikely it will be the same game--code-named "Van Buren"--that was being developed by Interplay’s internal Black Isle Studios. Black Isle was all but shut down last fall as part of Interplay’s cost-cutting measures, which saw both work on the game stop and the departure of virtually all of its developers. Though its financial terms were not disclosed, the Fallout license deal will give a much-needed injection of cash to Interplay, which is facing severe financial difficulty. The company’s controversial CEO, Herve Caen, only had good things to say about the transaction. "This is a good agreement for both companies and for gamers," he said in a statement. "Although several parties had a high level of interest in licensing Fallout, we are most impressed by Bethesda’s execution of role-playing titles. Bethesda is an ideal steward of the Fallout franchise." Indeed, the Fallout series is being taken over by one of the more well-respected role-playing game developers in business today. Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series has won numerous awards, most recently for Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, its sprawling third installment for the PC and Xbox. The first Elder Scrolls game was released in 1994, three years before the still-celebrated Fallout hit PCs. According to Bethesda, Fallout 3 will be developed alongside the next Elder Scrolls and under the direction of executive producer Todd Howard. Also, since Bethesda is currently hiring developers for "future-generation consoles," a GameCube, PlayStation 2, or Xbox version of Fallout 3 is highly unlikely. No release date for Fallout 3 has been set, but Bethesda has already hinted that it intends to "publish additional sequels." However, none of these sequels will be the Fallout MMORPG Caen mentioned last month. In a separate press release, Interplay announced that it is retaining "all online gaming rights for the Fallout franchise." It is unclear how this would affect any online component of a Bethesda-developed Fallout game.


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