Star Citizen is the world's most heavily funded and long-in-development crowdfunded video game project ever. And it could be facing some legal trouble.
The game, which promises a sprawling space adventure fantasy that promises an open galaxy, detailed starfighter combat and even a first-person shooter mode, has been in development by Roberts Space Industries since 2011 and began receiving crowdfunding via Kickstarter in 2012. Additional financing via the game's official website continues to draw in a few million a month.
Now Crytek, the studio behind Crysis and owners of the CryEngine, is attempting to sue Roberts Space Industries (RSI) over their use of the CryEngine 3, under the premise that the latter has breached the terms of its contract. While Star Citizen began development using that engine, it is currently using another engine called Lumberyard.
Crytek maintains that despite this, RSI has breached its contract by scrubbing all mention of CryEngine from their marketing materials, which is a fairly standard obligation when licensing third party technology. However, Lumberyard is actually based on a version of CryEngine that Amazon purchased from Crytek.
I'm a little divided in my thoughts on the issue. One could either disprove the claim by proposing that Lumberyard iterates far beyond the original CryEngine code, or prove it by insisting that Lumberyard's origins in CryEngine code mean it is fundamentally a modified version of the CryEngine 3 technology.
Here's the official comment from Roberts Space Industries, and their parent company Cloud Imperium Games (CIG):
We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court…CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.