Crytek Sues Star Citizen Developer Over Breach Of Contract

by Imran Khan on Dec 13, 2017 at 05:48 PM

Crytek, the German video game publisher behind titles like Crysis, is suing Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games over breach of contract and copyright infringement.

The lawsuit, which was filed today in California, alleges that Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) breached its contract with Crytek that was created when the two companies partnered for ambitious space-life sim Star Citizen. This partnership formed alongside CIG's 2012 Kickstarter for Star Citizen. Crytek took an interest in the then-fledgling title and entered into a contract with CIG to allegedly use Crytek's proprietary CryEngine for Star Citizen and aid in development of the engine.

In exchange, Crytek provided marketing and engine support to CIG for the game.

Over time, Crytek and CIG's relationship got bumpier. After a few years of rapid expansion in the late 2000s, Crytek contracted just as quickly and ended up closing most of its studios after reportedly not paying employees for months. CIG ended up distancing themselves from CryEngine and eventually switched to Amazon's Lumberyard engine, a free game engine that is derived from Crytek's engine, a sale that infused Crytek with enough cash to survive.

That switch is part of why Crytek is alleging that CIG has breached the contract between the two. The lawsuit alleges that CIG "promised, among other things, (i) to use the CryEngine game development platform exclusively and to promote that platform within the video game, (ii) to collaborate with Crytek on CryEngine development, and (iii) to take a number of steps to ensure that Crytek’s intellectual property was protected. [CIG] utterly failed to follow through on those promises, and their actions and omissions constitute breaches of contract and copyright infringement and have caused substantial harm to Crytek.”

Star Citizen was originally intended for release in 2014, but after years of active development, the game currently has no publicly released date. A single player campaign titled Squadron 42 was announced in 2014 and was announced in January to be released in 2017. As of mid-December, it has not been released. Squadron 42 is also the source of Crytek's claim that CIG used CryEngine for a standalone title without seeking permission from Crytek first.

Two weeks ago, CIG announced that you can now buy land in Star Citizen, even though the land is not really accessible yet. Since its announcement in 2012, Star Citizen has continued crowdfunding and raised over $200 million for continued development.