News Article

Silicon Knights Loses Appeal in Epic Games Lawsuit

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Leaves the struggling company with $9.2 million in fees

To gamers with some experience of past console generations, Silicon Knights may be a name that provokes waves of nostalgia. From a Nintendo perspective its stand-out games are Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on the GameCube. Its development history since those days is less illustrious, however, and a legal battle with Epic Games that's been running since 2007 appears to have reached its end point; the outcome is not good for the struggling company.

The lawsuit with Epic Games was launched by Silicon Knights, accusing the former of failing to deliver on guarantees regarding its Unreal Engine 3 technology, with the suggestion that delays to optimising the engine so that it was usable had damaged SK's projects. The lawsuit also implied that Epic Games, rather than support licensees, had used money gained from the engine to directly fund its own games. In response Epic Games counter-sued, accusing Silicon Knights of copying and incorporating the Unreal Engine 3 code for its own engine without permission. In 2012 Epic Games won that lawsuit, with the court awarding $4.5 million, as well as an additional $4.7 million for legal costs — a total of $9.2 million for Silicon Knights to pay, as well as an order to destroy code and content determined by the court to be infringing the copyright of Epic Games.

In May last year SK's Mike Mays stated that the company was still in business, yet little has been heard since; founder Denis Dyack has had his own problems at Precursor Games since leaving Silicon Knights, with multiple crowdfunding campaigns for Shadow of the Eternals ending in failure. Now, in what could be a fatal development for Silicon Knights, it has failed in its appeal to overturn the previous court defeat to Epic Games, with all previous awards upheld. It's questionable whether the company will be in a position to pay the fees.

For fans of those classic GameCube titles or other games from Silicon Knights this is likely to be sad news. If the company issues any statements we'll provide an update.

[via gamasutra.com, destructoid.com]

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User Comments (54)

bezerker99

#1

bezerker99 said:

RIP awesome video game company. You were one of the reasons the Gamecube was great!

johndevine

#2

johndevine said:

Eternal Darkness was good. But I really never got what ALL THE FUSS was about.

I didn't consider it a standout title. It simply wasn't as good as the Resident Evil games. It got too much attention simply because of the insanity effects.

Which, in my opinion only ended up making the game seem stupid.

I still have my copy, I'd be willing to sell. I can't see me ever revisiting it.
And I don't consider it enough of a classic to make it worth keeping. I can't see my offspring ever playing it in the future, for example.

I'll swap it for a copy of The Twin Snakes if anyone is interested / foolish enough.

It's in mint condition.

Stu13

#5

Stu13 said:

I absolutely adored Twin Snakes. I'd pick it up over the PSX original any day (come at me). This is a bummer.

King47

#6

King47 said:

@johndevine

I'd be willing to buy it, depending on how much you're asking for it. But I wont trade it for anything, though. Is it NA or PAL?

DStroke

#9

DStroke said:

This reminds me of Rare. Since the Nintendo days they fell...
But Eternal Darkness, wasn't really that good (must have been more polished), BUT it was unique and also a new experience. I rememeber jumping from bed to may Gamecube to pull out the MemCard cause the game wanted to delete everything :D near heartattack ^^

johndevine

#10

johndevine said:

@King47 do not worry.

Believe me mate. It ain't that good.

It got attention because Nintendo published it. Also, if you have read about the game it spoils the hell out of it. Because the insanity effects are so widely documented, you just sit infront of the TV waiting for them to happen. YAWNFEST.

WaLzgiStaff

#11

WaLzgi said:

Rare at least went "down" on a good note, rather than a lawsuit...

unrandomsam

#12

unrandomsam said:

It is their own fault they have these fees. If they didn't like what epic wanted they should have 9 million into their own engine.

Darknyht

#13

Darknyht said:

Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes was excellent, but then how hard is it to port the first game into the second game's engine and update the code to run on a different console?

Eternal Darkness always seemed like the original Alone in the Dark with updated graphics to me, but not as interesting.

Too Human only got demo time from me, and that was enough.

X-Men: Destiny was a weekend rental that was completed (100% achievements) before it went back without too much effort. In otherwords, not much of a game there.

So I guess my opinion is that there isn't much of a loss for the gaming world.

vattodev

#14

vattodev said:

Wow, that was weird. So they payed for the engine, used it and it wasn't performing as expected. They decided to mess with it so they could make their games work and sue the enterprise that made the faulty engine. In the court they lose 9 million because they changed the engine. That's a very weird turn of events. Am I interpreting this wrong?

AK-1138

#15

AK-1138 said:

Twin Snakes is a great remake (though I can't blame you if you prefer the original), but Silicon Knights deserves very little credit for it. The same reason you wouldn't give credit to BluePoint for their MGS HD remakes.

So that leaves basically only the half-baked Eternal Darkness to their credit then.

TheChosen

#16

TheChosen said:

Its hard to feel sorry for a company thats last worthwhile game was released on Gamecube.

King47

#17

King47 said:

@johndevine

I played a portion of the game but didn't beat it. It was my friend's game and he need it back before I could beat it. I don't recall all the insanity effects and I don't read on it. I'm not dying to play it, so this might be good. Thanks though.

rmeyer

#19

rmeyer said:

This company needs to go they've already made enemies with Epic studios not a good idea, not good for the gaming industry

Mooj738

#20

Mooj738 said:

To be honest I agree with an earlier statement, if the main game they made was on the Gamecube whats so sad about this.

Also they started it by suing the Epic, Epic counter sued and they lost. I take that as all their fault.

The shadow of eternals thing was quite hilarious as it failed multiple times!

Bulbousaur

#21

Bulbousaur said:

Even though its sad that they're pretty much dead now, its hard to care since they haven't made a good game in almost ten years. I say let the company die so the employees that are still there can move onto bigger and better things.

ChessboardMan

#22

ChessboardMan said:

Hhhhmmmm, seeing a lot of Eternal Darkness hate here, which I find odd, as I adored the game, with its multiple character viewpoints, and its Lovecraft inspired story. But it does seem recently they've gone down the drain. Precursor Games doesn't seem too hot neither.
I would like to see a HD Remake of Eternal Darkness, and a new game in a similar vein, but it feels like I might be better off waiting for an entirely unconnected Indie company to make their own game that is inspired by it, because they'll probably do a better job of it, and throw in some truly interesting spins of their own.

Gerbwmu

#23

Gerbwmu said:

@ChessboardMan - I was a big fan of the game too.....I have my copy but haven't played it in years......I should run through it again but I've been hoping for an HD release or a new one......probably get neither. Some of the tricks that game pulled freaked me out....

AyeHaley

#24

AyeHaley said:

I'm still hoping Nintendo will take matters in own hand...They have..35? months left to do something with it. I would LOVE a Wii U rerelease.

ULTRA-64

#25

ULTRA-64 said:

Let's hope we can help them out with some GameCube vc purchases in the not too distant future, I'd love another play through of eternal darkness.

Pod

#26

Pod said:

Poor Denis.

Suing wasn't smart, when they aren't in the right. But he just wanted to make games. His dear long-term project Too Human was turned into wannabe AAA focus group tested design-by-committee trash, and gamers who had never played any of his games actively fought against his crowd funding campaigns because of the lawsuit and their affinity to Epic.

It's a travesty all around. Luckily the 9.2 million is asked of the company, and not the people, if I'm reading it right. Which means SI probably goes bankrupt and has its assets sold off to try and cover the debt. Do they even own any IP still, though?

Rezalack

#27

Rezalack said:

@ChessboardMan Eternal Darkness is my favorite Gamecube title and I love the Gamecube. I actually just rebought one a couple weeks ago and have been playing Eternal Darkness the last week, it's still just as good as I remember. It's a classic survival horror with a cool combat system as far as the spell casting goes, even the melee is more unique than the earliar RE games, which I love as well. I don't think the game is awesome because of the insanity effects, it's awesome because of the story, it's eerie atmosphere that it does so well, and the fact that it's one of the best survival horrors that there is. It's a must-play for any survival horror fan.

Now on topic. I don't think this will effect a sequel or an HD remake of the game. That's all I really care about from this company and Nintendo has the rights to that IP. It does suck for them, though they probably shouldn't have tried to sue in the first place.

Midayle

#29

Midayle said:

Silicon Knights died the same death that Factor 5 and Rareware did. They are victims of a desire for greatness and something more than what Nintendo could provide. This is how it had to end, but not how it should of.

AJWolfTill

#30

AJWolfTill said:

Not remotely suprised. Ever since they broke away from Nintendo, Dyack has been murdering that company. I would like to see the ED IP continue as it had a great deal of potential with its time hopping setting. Didn't Nintendo renew the copyright quite recently?

majorgamer

#31

majorgamer said:

I'm sad to see so many people on here commenting about how they didn't like Eternal Darkness that much. I understand and disagree. I thought it had way more going for it than the insanity effects. I thought the story was neat in how it unfolded through generations. I thought there were some genuinely creepy moments, especially in the mansion. The magic system was pretty cool, and the three (four) alignments made it so you had to approach the game different in each play-through. The controls were really tight, although I'm not the biggest fan of fixed camera angles. And for Nintendo to publish such an amazing mature title was awesome at the time it came out. If I compare it to the Resident Evil games that came out during that time, it compares really favorably in terms of graphics, story and control...not counting its unique elements of magic and sanity.

My intention here is not to counter anyone else's opinion on the game, but to also show that there are really great reasons why it is regarded so highly both by critics and gamers. There were some truly great moments in that game!

Einherjar

#33

Einherjar said:

@Stu13 I certain scenes werent so over the top (Hind D fight for instance) i would love that version even more than i do ;) The gameplay adaptations from MGS2 were awesome though.

@topic For an already struggling company without any games to profit from, almost 10million is basicly a fatal blow. Sad news indeed. But to be honest, other than their GC outings, nothing really good came from them.
As hard as it might sound, but i guess these poor fellas wont even be missed that much.

Pod

#36

Pod said:

@DarkwingLz
I wouldn't call them a one-hit wonder. The first Legacy of Kain was one of the best games that year, and they handled Twin Snakes very competently.

warlocknem

#37

warlocknem said:

@Pod I was reading the comments and on the way down I wondered "Why hasn't anyone brought up Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen!?That game was great!" Which I was about to comment on an then I saw your post and had to reply.

JaxonH

#38

JaxonH said:

I think they're talented developers, and I own Twin Snakes on the Cube. But it sounds like these guys were asking for it by suing Epic Games KNOWING they had copied their engine.

WeskJago

#40

WeskJago said:

"For fans of the gamecube games this may come as sad news" how so? The gamecube games are already made. Technically this company was dead since the wii was announced. There's no reason to be sad because nobody lost anything out of this situation lol

Nintenjoe64

#42

Nintenjoe64 said:

Pretty shocked at the negative comments for Eternal Darkness. Definitely one of my favourite games of all time. It would be clunky by today's standards but I can't think of a single moment I didn't enjoy in that game. Except maybe 'the lucky penny' puzzle which I'm sure I tried correctly about 60 times before it worked.

QuickSilver88

#44

QuickSilver88 said:

Silcon Knights was truly doomed by the failure of To Human which they worke on and hyped for years but then never delivered.....if it had been a financial sucess they would have never started the suit against epic. The other interesting point is how well Nintendo has handled 2nd party arrangements like they had with Rare and SK.....I wish Nintendo would take an interest in a new western dev and turn out some great stuff like those two teams did.

goonow

#46

goonow said:

They brought it on themselves, and deserve what they got... It was a stupid lawsuit that should have never existed. Silicon knights got greedy and now they are as good as dead.

Terrible_Majesty

#47

Terrible_Majesty said:

its disappointing that instead of sk going bankrupt, they coukd be giving us mature wii u games like eternal darkness 2 !

SKTTR

#48

SKTTR said:

There aren't many dark/spooky games with a good story on Nintendo's consoles.
Since the release of Eternal Darkness twelve years ago, I found only 3 horror games that were on the same quality level: Resident Evil 4 (2004, Gamecube), Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2010, Wii), Project Zero 2 (2013, Wii).
So yeah, of course Eternal Darkness is one of Nintendo's finest horror games. Don't believe the hate! That's just todays youth. They have no clue that it was an amazing game 12 years ago. They see the words 'Horror game' and wish for violence and gore, instead of an intimidating story. Judge the game for yourself.

element187

#49

element187 said:

Pretty simple solution, declare bankruptcy, devolve Silicon Knights, continue working on the project

element187

#50

element187 said:

@Pod that's exactly what will happen.... But what assets?
Seems like a hollow victory for Epic... Precursor Games can still continue unabated.

Shambo

#51

Shambo said:

I played Eternal Darkness about 15-20 times through, and Twin Snakes would probably be aroung 4-5. Which is still way more than most games. I guess I can stop hoping to ever see a true successor to Eternal Darkness now that everyone involved with that gem is in financial trouble. Why is it that videogames and lawsuits seem to go together so often, yet so bad? Don't answer that, I know it's money.

Rezalack

#52

Rezalack said:

@majorgamer It's an amazing game. I'm playing through it again right now. You're completely right about the story. I was thinking last night as I was playing it that they could make a decent movie out of it if done right. I'm not really a story person when it comes to games, but this is definitely the exception. It just feels original even if it has some cliches. Plus they manage to make you like and care about all the characters, at least for me.

@Nintenjoe64 That penny thing had me stuck too.. I haven't played the game for years and that "box" had me running all over looking for a particular item for about 15 minutes.. I then looked at my backpack and had an Ah-HA! moment.

jordanmarsden

#54

jordanmarsden said:

Eternal Darkness... Now that's a game I would like to see on the Wii U virtual console.

Really wish Nintendo would up the pace of VC releases, as the collection so far is very sparse and doesn't feature a single N64 titles.

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