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It seems as if Atari just can't escape the woes of the gaming industry. This time around the company is facing a rather debilitating lawsuit from the developer of RollerCoaster Tycoon, all because there's now a big dispute when it comes to what Atari owes the developer in full.
TMZ is reporting that Frontier Development is suing Atari for $2.2 million. This all stems from work done on previous RollerCoaster Tycoon games that have been released over the years, but Frontier claims that there have been no royalties paid from those sales.
The $2.2 million is the combination of royalties that Frontier claims Atari owes them for work that had been done on the series since 2003. In response, Atari removed the ability to purchase RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 from Steam and GOG.com pending the outcome of the lawsuit, as reported by Game Informer. What's very interesting here is that in April, TMZ reported that Frontier examined the ownership data from another website which showed the RollerCoaster Tycoon games had sold more than what Atari had reported to Frontier.
The lawsuit states that total royalties should have come up to $3.37 million, but the company was only paid $1.17 million instead, and that there's $2.2 million missing from the stack.
The lawsuit spawned from the fact that after Frontier attempted to find out what the real sales data was like from Atari's own books, the company delayed when attempting to have an audit done on the sales reports.
One interesting thing of note here is that when Frontier mentioned that it checked a website for ownership data, I do wonder if the company was referring to Steam Spy? The owner of Steam Spy mentioned previously that the reason he brought it back (after Valve changed the privacy data that crippled the service) was because developers and indie studios all wrote to him thanking him for the service and mentioned how invaluable the data was when it came to user engagement, sales trajectory, and comparative analysis.
One definitely has to wonder if Steam Spy played any role in Frontier Developments measuring the ownership data with what data Atari had provided them when it came to sales?
Regardless of how Frontier Developments acquired the data, the studio decided to sue Atari for back-pay on royalties. This will likely hamper Atari's upcoming efforts to crowdfund the new Atari VCS this month, especially if the company will have to spend time and money battling it out in court with Frontier Developments.
The developers, however, have a fall back in the form of Elite Dangerous, which was also crowdfunded and made its way to home consoles and PC. Atari, on the other hand, doesn't quite have any modern day success stories to use as leverage. The latest few games released by Atari actually happened to be RollerCoaster Tycoon World, which did not go over well with fans at all, and before that was the poorly received reboot of Alone in the Dark called Alone in the Dark: Illumination.
Things could get hairy for Atari once more if the courts find favor with Frontier Developments and force Atari to pay up the $2.2 million. At that point, one would certainly have to question what might become of the Atari VCS?