The Bethesda v. Interplay case centers on a dispute about a Fallout massively multiplayer online game license, but court documents suggest there may be an Elder Scrolls MMO in the works as well.
Websites Duck and Cover and VG247 both report today that court documents in the Bethesda v. Interplay case reveal the existence of a "World of Warcraft" type MMO in development at Bethesda. The sites were tipped off to the game's existence when Bethesda moved to redact its testimony to hide a "secret" project. So far, nobody has been able to obtain the complete 218 page transcript of the court case either in its original or redacted form. The deadline to file for redaction passed yesterday.
Here's what we know for sure:
--2006, Interplay makes a United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a potential Fallout MMO.
--2007, Bethesda buys the rights to Fallout, but leaves a door open for Interplay to make the Fallout MMO with some caveats about when and with what money they would make the game.
--2009, Interplay announces an agreement with Masthead Studios to create an MMO codenamed Project V13, which may or may not actually be the Fallout MMO.
--2009, Bethesda moves to rescind Interplay's Fallout MMO license.
--2009, Bethesda's request for a preliminary injunction against Interplay is denied.
Meanwhile, speculation swelled up around what the next Elder Scrolls game would be. Bethesda's Pete Hines was very firm in the company blog that at some point there would be another Elder Scrolls game. In fall of 2009, a Greg Keyes Elder Scrolls tie-in book seemed to confirm the existence of an Elder Scrolls V or potentially an Elder Scrolls MMO with a press blurb published on a book retailer site that has since been edited to remove the information regarding a new Elder Scrolls game.
The original text of that retailer blurb is as follows:
"A novel that takes places forty-five years after the Oblivion Crisis, which is the story of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion game and the expansion pack Shivering Isles. It partly bridges the gap for the next game, which is set 200 years after the Oblivion crisis."
In short, nobody knows for sure. We have a request for clarification in with Bethesda and will update this story when and if they get back to us.
In the meantime, Duck and Cover speculates:
[T]he development timetable for an MMO is 4 years, so that would mean they would be releasing this game next year.
Bethesda also does not want their competitors, whether Interplay or big MMO competitors like Blizzard, to know whether it's Fallout MMO or not. Based on testimony released on DAC, they are not working on a Fallout MMO and they cannot start working on one until they win the rights from Interplay. Technically speaking, that means no Fallout MMO from Bethesda until 2014 at the earliest if the court case gets settled soon and in Bethesda's favor. However, if they are working on a Fallout MMO anyway, which would mean perjury and therefore highly unlikely [edit:And just so people aren't confused, I am in no way suggesting Bethesda committed perjury], next year might see a Fallout MMO from Bethesda.