At the end of last year, the lawsuit that Ragnarok Game filed against Human Head for abandonment of Rune II became widely known. Now the plaintiff has also extended the suit to Zenimax and Bethesda Softworks, accusing them of deliberate sabotage of the game.
First, let's remind what the whole case is about. Rune II launched on November 12, last year in Epic Games Store. A day later, the devteam at Human Head was dissolved. Moments later, a new team, called Roundhouse Studio was announced, as part of Bethesda, which included employees of the closed-down Human Head. In this way, Ragnarok Game was lost its partner, and what's worse, it couldn't even develop Rune 2 on its own, because the developers didn't provide the source code (Ragnarok got it only in January 2020).
Now, Ragnarok Game has updated the suit. The publisher accuses Zenimax and Bethesda Softworks of deliberate actions that were to guarantee the game's failure. In the document we can read that the entities conspired with Human Head for many months, fearing that Rune 2 might endanger The Elder Scrolls brand. According to the claimant, the developer held buyout talks with many entities and only Bethesda and Zenimax demanded that the negotiations be kept secret and discarded the possibility of continuing work on Rune II and the unannounced Oblivion Song project.
According to the lawsuit, two weeks before the launch of Rune 2, Zenimax was to quietly set up Roundhouse Studios and then buy back all Human Head assets as well as take over their lease agreements. This is important because these computers contained the game's source code, which was in fact owned by Ragnarok Game. Then it was arranged to lay off all developers so that Zenimax could hire them.
Moreover, the fear of what the game's main designer, Christopher Rhinehart, would do, caused him to be sent on a business trip to Texas for a few days, so that he would be out of the office when Rune 2was released . Moreover, a press release about the closure of Human Head was to be written not by the developers of the studio, but by the people at Bethesda and Zenimax.
It is hard to imagine that Bethesda and Zenimax really feared that the game would threaten the position of The Elder Scrolls, but their methods are suspicious. It seems obvious that the manoeuvre of closing down Human Head and hiring all the employees was made to get rid of the contract obligations that would have existed if Human Head had been bought. Moreover, the fact that Ragnarok Game had to work hard to get the source code suggests bad will on the part of the sued companies.
Finally, it's worth mentioning that the development of Rune 2 was finally resumed by Studio 369, which was established for this purpose. A revised version of the game, called Rune 2: Decapitation Edition, will debut on November 13 on Steam. It will offer an improved combat system, an expanded and heavily improved campaign, new abilities, additional dungeons and characters, and extensive progression mechanics.
- Rune II - official website