Marvelous AQL, a Japanese company best known for publishing Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, Rune Factory and Soul Sacrifice is being taken to court after the CEO of an indie studio alleged that the company tried to initiate a hostile takeover of the studio to avoid a $2.5 million payment, Gamasutra reports.
The CEO of start-up studio Checkpoint, Brian Wiklem, alleges that Marvelous paid his studio $2.5 million in start-up costs in exchange for a 35 percent share of the studio (Wiklem would retain the remaining 65 percent) and ship two games by the end of 2012. He says Marvelous had promised to negotiate another similar deal for 2013.
In his complaint filed to a California civil court, Wiklem says rather than negotiate another deal for 2013, Marvelous and former Checkpoint CTO Christopher Masterton "conspired to try to engineer a hostile takeover of Checkpoint".
He alleges that he had sold 24 percent of his share of the company to Masterton, who then went to Japan in September of this year without Wiklem's knowledge to sell his portion of shares to Marvelous, effectively making Marvelous the majority shareholder. However, Marvelous was not able to contractually purchase the shares without Wiklem's consent. In addition, Masterton's shares did not have any voting rights. Wiklem alleges that in light of this, Marvelous hired Masteron to work at its U.S. subsidiary, XSeed and poached 14 of Checkpoint's key development staff, which left Checkpoint unable to effectively operate.
Wiklem also alleges that former Checkpoint employees are illegally using Checkpoint-developed technology over at XSeed and that Masterton is refusing to provide passwords for Checkpoint accounts like its Facebook page.
Gamasutra reports that Checkpoint is suing Marvelous, Masteron, XSeed and 10 additional unamed parties over breach of contract, theft of trade secrets and breach of fiduciary duties as board members and more.
Checkpoint is suing for damages of "at least $5 million."