Way back in December of last year, we reported on the strange case of Rune 2. Since you no doubt need a refresher, here’s the TL;DR – Rune 2 was a Viking RPG being developed by Human Head Studios, to be published by Ragnarok Games. However, the day after Rune 2 launched, Human Head Studios was shut down, and then immediately re-opened as Roundhouse Studios, which was owned by Bethesda. Ragnorok Games, who was responsible for maintaining the game post-launch, asked for the game files so they could do their job. Roundhouse Studio refused, so Ragnarok sued to the tune of $10 million - a lot of money, but considering what was going down, not an unreasonable one.
It was a strange incident that was quickly forgotten in the rush of the season, but just now, there’s been a new development in the court case: Bethesda and their parent company ZeniMax Studios have now been roped into the lawsuit, because Ragnorok is claiming – for real – that Rune 2 was so good the companies thought it threatened the Elder Scrolls brand.
"In an act of utter bad faith and contractual breach of confidentiality requirements, Human Head secretly provided Bethesda and Zenimax with 'keys' that permitted it to play a confidential, pre-release version of Rune 2. This enabled Bethesda and Zenimax to see for themselves the threat that Rune 2 posed to their hit franchise, Skyrim/Elder Scrolls. Plaintiffs were never informed of this betrayal….
…One early review of Rune 2 described it as 'Skyrim on steroids'. The hit videogame Skyrim is part of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls franchise and was developed and published by Bethesda and its affiliates. This review signaled to Bethesda and ZeniMax that one of their biggest cash cows was under threat."
That is one hell of a claim, to be sure, but to be honest it’s not… impossible? Bethesda has been super protective of their Elder Scrolls brand in the past, and they still clearly had big plans for Skyrim at the time, so… it’s not actually the most ridiculous notion I’ve heard. Even if the game is sitting at a negative score of 47 on Metacritic currently, suggesting they might not have needed to bother.
Anyway, with these new changes, they’ve also jacked up the damages to “no less than 100 million”, plus other fees.
If there’s any merit to what they’re claiming, I guess we can find out when Rune 2: Decapitation Edition comes out on Steam on November 13. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing how Bethesda responds, if at all.