The producers of the forthcoming music video game Scratch: The Ultimate DJ have filed a lawsuit against Activision — the company behind Guitar Hero and Scratch's competitor game DJ Hero — claiming that Activision conspired against their game by purchasing Scratch's developer. According to a lawsuit filed in California, Scratch's Genius Products and Numark Industries accuse Activision of "intentional interference with contract, breach of contract, conversion and misappropriation of trade secrets," Paid Content reports.
What may seem to be a small squabble could be a huge deal. The music video game industry is a billion-dollar business, and competition is fierce. As Rock Daily reported last month, Rock Band made $1 billion in North American retail sales alone after just 15 months. The battle for sales has led Guitar Hero to make deals for stand-alone titles with Metallica and Aerosmith, while Rock Band has focused on putting out full albums — Guns n' Roses Chinese Democracy is next up — and developing a special Beatles version of the game.
Activision initially attempted to purchase the rights to Scratch, but their offer was rejected by Genius. Instead, Activision began production of their own game, DJ Hero, purchasing developer 7 Studios, who were already under contract to develop Scratch at the time. "Frustrated that it was unable to purchase the Game itself, Activision then embarked on a sinister strategy of intentional interference and unfair competition," the lawsuit reads. "Rather than acquire the Game at the fair-market price-levels being negotiated with Genius, Activision decided to purchase financially-troubled 7 Studios in order to delay and prevent the completion of the Game — in effect, holding its competitor's game hostage."
Genius and Numark accuse Activision, now in control of 7 Studios, of withholding code and the game's turntable controller in an attempt to delay its release, thus helping DJ Hero gain ground on its competitor's release date. Genius and Numark are seeking "substantial damages." When Rock Daily spoke to Scratch adviser Quincy Jones III, he seemed unconcerned with sharing shelf space with DJ Hero, telling us "I don't have a whole lot of detail about what they're doing. But I do know that ours is going to be a very authentic experience."