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Game developer claims Atari owes $30M on "Dungeons and Dragons"

600full-atari-2600-media The video game and online game industries continue to stratify much like Hollywood once did — some companies have become producers and some have developed into more of a publisher/distributor role.

We still remember our first video game system — the Atari console picture here. But the company isn't very much like the Atari of yore. The company has been bought and sold multiple times over the years, and its place in the marketplace has shifted. Currently, it publishes games and distribute them. Often, it signs contracts with smaller developers. In other words, Atari is much more like a distributor than a production studio.

Like all studios, Atari deals with creative talent unhappy with the way their product has been handled.

Turbine Inc., a Westwood, Massachusetts-based computer game developer, alleges in a new lawsuit that Atari licensed them to develop a massively-multiplayer online role playing game based on "Dungeons and Dragons," but that Atari has continually missed its obligations under the agreement. Turbine says it spent $20 million, employed dozens upon dozens of people working hundreds of thousands of hours, developing the game, yet Atari hasn't committed the necessary resources to promote the game.

Turbine says it has stepped up to assume much of Atari's publishing and distribution obligations and has even paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in advance royalties to Atari, but still can't get Atari to meet its remaining obligations.

Turbine wants to recover $30 million in losses due to Atari's alleged breach of contract.