When Bethesda purchased the rights to make a Fallout game from Interplay in April 2007, it only got the rights to make a singleplayer Fallout game. Interplay retained rights for multiplayer, which translates into an MMO. The was a condition to this deal: Interplay had to raise at least $30 million and show significant development in two years.
Fast forward two years and we've seen next to nothing from the Fallout MMO from Interplay, codenamed V13. The news comes from Interplay's annual performance report, which included the following in the "Legal Proceedings" section:
Interplay recently received notice that Bethesda Softworks, LLC ("Bethesda") intends to terminate the trademark license agreement between Bethesda and Interplay which was entered into April 4, 2007 for the development of FALLOUT MMOG. Despite the fact that no formal action is currently pending, Bethesda claims that Interplay is in breach of the trademark license agreement for failure to commence fill scale development of same by April 4, 2009 and to secure certain funding for the MMOG. Interplay adamantly disputes these claims. Although the potential damages are currently unknown, if Bethesda ultimately prevails and cancels the trademark license agreement, Interplay would lose its license back of the "Fallout" MMOG and any damages resulting therefrom are unknown at this time.
So what happens now?
It's likely that Bethesda will snag the rights to do a Fallout MMO. Interplay was in serious financial trouble, which is why they sold the rights to Fallout in the first place. ZeniMax, the owner of Bethesda Softworks, has also established an MMO studio run by one of the original creators of Dark Age of Camelot. I'm sure they are salivating at the thought of releasing a Fallout MMO as their first project given the success of Fallout 3.
Remember, legal action hasn't been taken yet, but Bethesda has announced their intention to pursue the license. Either way, it's not likely we'll see a Fallout MMO anytime soon. Would you play an MMO set in the Wasteland?