Studio Alleges Former CTO, Marvelous AQL ‘Conspired to Try to Engineer a Hostile Takeover’

The video game news website Gamasutra reported on October 31, 2012, that independent game studio Checkpoint is suing Japanese publisher Marvelous AQL and other parties for breach of contract, theft of trade secrets and other claims. Gamasutra reported that the complaint filed by Checkpoint CEO Brian Wiklem states that Marvelous paid the studio $2.5 million in startup costs in exchange for a 35 percent share of the privately-owned company and two shipped games by the end of 2012. According to Gamasutra, Wiklem would retain 65 percent and Marvelous would negotiate a similar deal in good faith for another $2.5 million to ship additional titles in 2013.

Two games were released, but Wiklem claimed Marvelous refuses to negotiate for 2013 and has also withheld other unrelated payments. Gamasutra reported that the lawsuit alleges Marvelous and former Checkpoint CTO Christopher Masterton “conspired to try to engineer a hostile takeover of Checkpoint.” Wiklem sold a 24 percent share of the company to Masterton, and Gamasutra reported that Masterton allegedly to try to sell those shares and give Marvelous majority ownership of the studio. According to Gamasutra, Marvelous was not able to contractually purchase the shares without Wiklem’s consent.

The complaint alleges that Marvelous not only hired Masterton to work at its US subsidiary, XSeed, but also 14 other members of Checkpoint’s key development staff. Gamasutra reported that this left the company “gutted and unable to ship product,” and the lawsuit claims that the former employees are “illegally using Checkpoint-developed technology and assets over at XSeed.” The lawsuit claims that Checkpoint sustained “at least $5 million” in damages, according to Gamasutra.

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