Marvelous accused of hostile indie studio takeover

By Brenna Hillier, Thursday, 1 November 2012 00:11 GMT

Harvest Moon and Rune Factory publisher Marvelous AQL has been slapped with a lawsuit accusing the company of some shady business practices.

Brian Wiklem, CEO of independent developer Checkpoint, filed a complaint this month regarding the publisher’s behaviour, Gamasutra reports.

Wiklem alleges Marvelous tried to swallow up his company in order to avoid a $2.5 million payment.

The suit claims Marvelous paid the newly-birthed Checkpoint $2.5 million in exchange for a 35% interest in the studio and two shipped games by the end of 2012. The arrangement was to be repeated the following year, with another $2.5 million provided for two further games.

Apparently, Checkpoint dutifully shipped its required titles, AviNation and Party Politics, but Marvelous has refused to begin negotiating for the 2013 deal, and withheld other payments.

One top of that, the suit also alleges Marvelous conspired with former Checpoint staffer Christopher Masterton to “engineer a hostile takeover” of the company.

Wiklem, who owned the remaining 65% of Checpoint, sold a 24% interest to Materton, who is said to visited Marvelous with the aim of selling his interest, granting the Japanese company a majority ownership.

However, Wiklem’s concent would be required for such a sale, and Masterton’s shares did not include any voting rights on Checkpoint’s board, so the Checkpoint boss alleges Marvelous found other ways to scuttle Checkpoint – hiring Masterton and another 14 staff for US subsidiary XSEED.

Wiklem’s suit claims Checkpoint is now unable to complete games; that former staff are utilising Checkpoint developed tech at XSEED; and that Masterton is withholding important Checkpoint log-in details. Wiklem claims $5 million in damages, as Marvelous and Masteron have effectively blocked him from doing business.

A tale of iniquity indeed; Marvelous is silent on the matter at present.

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