Former Rune II Developers Sued for Up to $100 Million in Damages
You'll certainly remember the former Rune II developers at Human Head Studios announced the closure of HHS basically alongside the game's launch; at the same time, Bethesda revealed they'd be picking them up as a new team called Roundhouse Studios.
The situation already looked weird enough. Now, though, an entirely new chapter of the story has opened as Ragnarok Game LLC, the publisher of Rune II, has filed a lawsuit in the State of California against HHS founders Christopher J. Rhinehart, Ben Gokey, and Paul MacArthur, seeking up to $100 million in damages.
In summary: (a) Human Head entered into a long-term agreement with Ragnarok —
the whole goal of which was to launch Rune II and to provide the necessary support for its
commercial success, (b) Human Head accepted millions of dollars in payment, but failed to
perform, (c) instead of curing its deficient work, Human Head secretly conspired to abandon
Ragnarok and the Rune II community in an apparent attempt to defraud and harm Ragnarok and the game, and (d) Human Head timed the unveiling of its plan to cause maximum damage.
But Human Head's fraud and malice did not stop there. Human Head's Principals -
- Ben Gokey, Christopher Rhinehart, and Paul MacArthur - tried one last stunt to damage
Ragnarok, Rune II, and the Rune II community. They held hostage certain game code and
property that unequivocally belonged to Ragnarok, refusing to transfer the property absent additional payments for work that had never been completed.
By this time, Ragnarok had learned its lesson. Ragnarok refused to be blackmailed
and pay the ransom, repeatedly requesting the return of its property. What did Ben Gokey,
Christopher Rhinehart, and Paul MacArthur do? They made unauthorized alterations to the code and attempted (unsuccessfully) to make public the unauthorized changes. Of course, since Human Head no longer existed, Gokey, Rhinehart, and MacArthur were not altering the code on behalf of Human Head. Regardless, alter the code they did.
Ragnarok brings this action to mitigate and remedy the substantial harm caused by
the fraud and other egregious misconduct perpetrated by Defendants.
We reached out to Bethesda and the publisher responded that they do not have a comment on this. We'll also try to reach directly to the ex Human Head founders and will update this story if they respond.
Rune II is currently available on PC via the Epic Games store, priced $24.99.