When Atari and Nvizzio Creations launched RollerCoaster Tycoon World on November 16th, one day before Planet Coaster’s release date, everyone knew it would be a lopsided battle. RollerCoaster Tycoon World’s development had multiple development studios and at least one full project reboot. Planet Coaster had Frontier Development’s pedigree and a solid early access record. Once both games launched, it was clear that the critical winner was Planet Coaster. Now that the dust has settled, Frontier is on the attack again. This time, it’s going for a legal win. TMZ reports that Frontier Developments is suing Atari for $2.2 million in unpaid royalties from RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. Eurogamer confirmed the report with Frontier’s David Walsh.
“We can confirm Frontier is currently pursuing a complaint against Atari. We have attempted to resolve this issue without legal action since April 2016. We have so far been denied our contractual right to audit by Atari, and we are unfortunately left with no other way to resolve our concerns. We are unable to offer any further comment while the matter is subject to due legal process.”
Chris Sawyer, the owner of the RollerCoaster Tycoon property, sued Atari in 2005 for a similar monetary grievance. The suit was settled out of court in 2008.
That’s an in-game shot from RollerCoaster Tycoon World. My park guests could either be yawning at the game’s klunky performance on a decent PC, or they’re aghast that I’m playing this instead of a better game. It’s a mess. The game is in early access, so things could get better, but there’s a long way to go. As it stands now, it’s little more than a sparse sandbox park editor with a barely adequate tutorial mode coupled to art design that only barely looks as good as the full-featured RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 from 2004. The fact that the game is sorely unfinished didn’t stop the publisher, Atari, from boxing up a Steam code and tossing it up on retail shelves in some territories anyway.
Nvizzio Creations is the third studio that publisher Atari hired to take on the RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise after Pipeworks Software and Area 52 Games were both removed from the project. Nvizzio at least seems to be excited to work on the project and they’ve acknowledged that they have some work to do. Hopefully, Atari recognizes that there is an audience willing to support these modestly budgeted, but well-made, sandbox sims.
Frontier Developments, the studio that made the previous RollerCoaster Tycoon games for Atari, is busy developing their own theme park sim, Coaster Planet.