In an interview with Edge Magazine, Interplay president Eric Caen revealed that Bethesda turned down the opportunity to buy the rights to Fallout Online MMORPG back when they were buying the rights to Fallout 3'.
Hervé [Caen] started negotiations with Bethesda to sell Fallout to them. (...) My brother said: 'If you want the full IP, the value of it is $50 million.' They said: 'No way. Why $50 million?' We said: 'Because the MMOG strength of this universe is huge.' Bethesda said: 'We don’t want that. Let’s buy everything else but the MMOG. Do the MMOG.' They said that Interplay had to start development and by a certain time we had to have a full game in development.”
He says that only after Bethesda realized the value of a potential Fallout MMORPG, they tried to reclaim the rights by force, suing Interplay last year:
They bought everything, but left Interplay with the licence to do the MMOG - under certain conditions, thinking that Interplay would never fulfil these conditions. But Interplay did. Spring 2009 - this is public information - Bethesda sends a termination letter to Interplay, saying: 'You did not fulfil your obligation.' So all the litigation is about that. I think Bethesda, off the back of Fallout 3’s success, realised that Hervé was probably right about the value. They said: 'OK, how can we get that without paying?'”
Caen says that the company refrains from showing too much information about the game, since "anything we show will help Bethesda in their fight". However, he comments on the progress:
We have 90 people working on it. Even in January 2009, you were already able to move across the world.”
What I can say is that of course we're playing what Bethesda is doing. We appreciate some portions of it, and we're not necessarily fans of everything. I think they miss a lot of the humour, and the fans seem to agree with that.
Fallout 3 was a little bit too serious – that's definitely not where we're going. Our Fallout MMOG will be extremely funny. At the same time, an MMOG must be a lot deeper than a standalone game. It's not a shooting game we're making. You can shoot, but it's a very small portion of the game. The game itself is about reconstructing the world.
What is unique about our project is how we're trying to get it into many communication systems. This is a big problem for World of Warcraft, because the fantasy universe is not compatible with modern communication systems. It would be odd to receive an SMS from a troll. But in a post-apocalyptic world..."”
Asked about release dates, Caen says:
We have a beta scheduled for 2012, with the commercial launch in the second half of 2012.”