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Activision: Killing the Competition?

Developer Double Fine Productions has filed a countersuit against Activision in regards to the upcoming game, Brutal Legend (starring Jack Black). The countersuit stems from a recent attempt by Activision to block the game from going retail, and alleges that the publisher is intentionally trying to hurt the developer and its project.

"[Activision's] purpose is not only to cancel Brutal Legend, but to kill it completely so that Guitar Hero would not have to face the competition," the lawsuit claims.

Originally, Double Fine Productions was developing Brutal Legend for Vivendi Universal Games, however the game was supposedly canceled in 2008 after Vivendi was acquired by Activision. Electronic Arts thus picked up the publishing rights and plans to release the game this October.

The initial lawsuit filed by Activision stated that both the publisher and developer did not reach an agreement after several delays, and contends that it never fully relinquished its rights to Brutal Legend. Activision said that the developer "improperly transferred" the game over to Electronic Arts, and thus sued the developer in June

The countersuit filed by Double Fine last week paints a different picture, saying that Activision lost interest and preferred to develop games based on movies, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft-related material rather than "original titles." The countersuit is asking the court to rule that Activision actually terminated the agreement, and that the developer was free to sell Brutal Legend to Electronic Arts.

The hearing to block Brutal Legend's release will take place July 30.