Sorry Guys, But After This Blow Silicon Knights Is Probably Dead
For all of those hoping for a sequel to the Gamecube’s cult classic Eternal Darkness from Silicon Knights, this effectively destroys any chance of that happening. Let’s review what happened until now.
In 2007, Silicon Knights were in the middle of working on the upcoming Too Human for Xbox 360. They claimed that Epic Games had licensed them an unfinished product in Unreal Engine 3, failed to provide personnel to fix the issues they’d been complaining about for more than a year, and then took the money they received from licensees and used it to fund Gears of War. So, Silicon Knights went ahead and sued Epic Games. I assume this sideshow distraction hampered the development of Too Human,
Not only did Epic disagree with the claims, they counter-sued for breach of contract, technology theft and copyright infringement. After nine days of hearing Silicon Knights witnesses testify against Epic Games, the court threw out the fraud claim. But, the trial didn’t end there. After five years, this long-lasting trial ended with Epic Games being granted 4.5 million dollars in damages from Silicon Knights for their grievance claims in the counter-lawsuit. Silicon Knights maybe would have survived if everything would have ended there.
But, now a new ruling came out from the North Carolina District Court, ordering Silicon Knights to recall and destroy all unsold games of theirs that were created with Unreal Engine 3. The court also ordered Silicon Knights to reimburse Epic Games $278,000 in court costs, $2.09 million in attorney fees and $2.3 million in pre-judgment interest. This brings the total of Silicon Knights debt to Epic Games to nearly $9 million.
It’s unlikely that Silicon Knights can withstand this blow. Not only have they had an excruciatingly difficult time focusing on game development for the past five years, they also will be taking a big blow to their coffers for a small studio such as theirs. Don’t count on any more Silicon Knights games coming out anytime soon.
This whole event leaves me with two questions: what will become of Denis Dyack? And will this taint the name of Epic Games and the Unreal Engine? Denis Dyack is the head of Silicon Knights and Eternal Darkness was his brainchild. Will he be able to pick up from this blow? Will he move to work at another company or will he leave gaming entirely?
And although Epic Games convinced the judges of their case, will this be enough to allow other licensees to trust in them with their Unreal Engine? Other developers may get scared off that if they ever run into trouble, there will be very little help from Epic Games in dealing with the issues.