Funny story: game publisher Ubisoft didn’t get the memo that the music rhythm genre has taken a nosedive, so they’ve developed a new music game called Rocksmith. This we already knew. Its hook is that you can plug in your trusty old electric guitar and play along to other people’s music ala the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises. Great for real music types who sneer at plastic peripherals, and great for non-music types who want to learn how to play something other than said plastic peripherals.
Now this is where the story gets funny: there’s already a band called Rocksmith in the United Kingdom. I know right! What are the odds? So when Ubisoft announced that Rocksmith the game had been delayed until 2012 due to “other external factors”, what they really meant to say was: “we didn’t do our homework and now this band from the UK is blocking us from publishing our game in EU territories”.
Kris Ford, Rocksmith the band’s drummer, has given Eurogamer the skinny on what’s gone down between the band and Ubisoft. Unfortunately it looks as if Ubisoft has been a real dick about things.
According to Ford, he wrote to Ubisoft a number of times but was ignored by the publisher:
“I wrote to Ubisoft and said, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I already own the name Rocksmith, and I’ve just discovered you’re planning on launching the game. Instead of messing around getting involved in big legal issues, why don’t we do some kind of deal, because obviously I’ve got the band, you’ve got the game, the two would work well side-by-side. We could promote the game, you could promote the band – we’ll even give you some songs to put on there. And they just ignored me.”
No way! This left Ford in a position of having to apply for a formal objection. Once a formal, legal objection had been issued to Ubisoft, the publisher suddenly wanted to talk to Ford.
“I had to make a formal opposition, which I did do, and lo-and-behold in three days I got a letter from Ubisoft saying, ‘Oh, yeah, in response to your earlier letter…’ And of course I just laughed because it was obvious that they hadn’t responded to my earlier letters, they’d responded to my formal opposition.”
Now, Ubisoft is allegedly threatening Ford with legal action for defamation of character, but Ford believes the publisher is just trying to bully him. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, Ford has all of the legal documentation he needs in order to block Rocksmith from ever being released in the EU – until the game’s name is changed that is.
Ford says he’s willing to still make a deal with Ubisoft but as of right now the publisher has offended him so badly that he has no idea what sort of offer he’d be willing to accept. For the rest of us looking forward to Rocksmith, we’ll just have to keep waiting.