Cloud Imperium Games (CIG), the developer behind Star Citizen and Squadron 42, is being sued by Crytek for an alleged breach of contract and copyright infringement.
In its lawsuit, Crytek claims to have licensed CryEngine at a below-market rate, in an agreement that would have put its trademarks and branding at prominent display across Star Citizen. Crytek alleges that CIG began removing its trademarks and branding form Star Citizen around September of 2016, and attempted to minimize CryEngine’s prominence by stating that Star Citizen was built on top of “Star Engine.” This was only made worse when CIG switched from CryEngine to Amazon’s Lumberyard earlier this year, entirely removing the CryEngine branding, which Crytek claims puts CIG in breach of contract.
Crytek also states that it licensed its engine to the developer for one game – Star Citizen – but alleges that CIG appears to be creating two games – Star Citizen and Squadron 42, the latter being a single-player game being sold separately. Crytek claims to have notified CIG of this contractual violation in February 2016, and alleges that CIG ignored its concerns and began selling Squadron 42 as a standalone game shortly thereafter.
The decision to switch from CryEngine to Amazon’s Lumberyard itself is also an infringement on its agreement with CIG, according to Crytek. As per the agreement, Crytek claims that CIG agreed to exclusively use CryEngine for the development of Star Citizen. It must be noted, however, that Amazon’s Lumberyard is also based on CryEngine, licensed from Crytek.
Additionally, Crytek claims that the agreement with CIG mandated the developer to share any bug fixes and optimizations made to CryEngine in a fully compilable format at least once every year, until the game is published; CIG failed to fulfill this requirement, Crytek alleges, stating that this also puts CIG in contravention of their contract.
CIG’s practice of sharing its progress with the community is also part of the lawsuit, as Crytek alleges that CIG shared “excerpts of information from CryEngine that were confidential” in its ‘Bugsmashers’ YouTube series that still continues, with the latest episode coming out just a few hours ago as of the time of writing. Crytek also adds that with the recently announced partnership with Faceware, it is its belief that CryEngine source code was shared with a third party without its permission.
In a statement to Massively OP, CIG stated that it no longer uses CryEngine:
"We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court. CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter."
It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out, especially considering that Amazon’s Lumberyard is also based on CryEngine. As CIG is dependent on crowd-funding to support its development, it’s also clear that some of that funding will now go into defending it against Crytek’s allegations.
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