Game Over as Canadian Studio Silicon Knights Loses Final Appeal

Apart from the strange case of trademark troll Tim Langdell, it’s hard to imagine another element of the videogame world going as spectacularly badly as Silicon Knights.

Once the apple of Nintendo’s eye with titles like “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem” and “Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes,” the St. Catharine’s, Ontario studio has lost its latest appeal in its case against Epic Games.

In the original suit, SK alleged that Epic had failed to deliver on a number of proposed features in their Unreal Engine, the licensed toolset Silicon Knights used to develop their games. Following a bad showing at E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) of “Too Human” (a game that rivaled Duke Nukem Forever for a protracted development record), and the disappointing budget title “X-Men: Destiny,” fickle former fans turned on the studio, and bad press turned into a full-fledged Two Minutes Hate on an almost daily basis.

For their part, Epic countersued and won, sticking Silicon Knights with a $9.2 million damages bill, which one sat at a more “manageable” $4.5 million before a judge nearly doubled the fee to cover Epic’s legal fees. SK’s latest objection rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on January 6. It was Silicon Knights’ last shot at an appeal.

In the midst of the litigious hubbub, SK head Denis Dyack left to form a new studio called Precursor Games, where he launched two crowdfunding campaigns for Shadow of the Eternals. Shadow was intended to be a spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness, to which Nintendo still owns the rights. The campaigns were shut down and backers’ money was returned shortly before Precursor founder and designer Kenneth McCullough was arrested on child pornography charges. A third crowdfunding campaign failed to gain traction, and the project was placed on indefinite hiatus last September due to lack of funding.