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Today, tabletop roleplaying game publisher Evil Genius filed a lawsuit against Netflix for Breach of Contract. Evil Genius was hired to create a franchise TTRPG for Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon, and alleges that after working alongside Netflix and Snyder, Netflix unceremoniously terminated its contract.
The lawsuit details the amount of work that Evil Genius did for Netflix, which included three books in support of a planned Rebel Moon TTRPG. Evil Genius is one of the few tabletop game design companies that has raised money via venture capitalist funding, and has established itself as a well-known franchisee TTRPG company.
Snyder praised the TTRPG adaptation of his upcoming sci-fi movie series six months ago on the Nerd Queens stream. Snyder, said that he was having “a really good time” with the RPG, and the development was at a “ridiculous scale.” He also describes the TTRPG that Evil Genius was working on at the time as “immersive,” and “intense.” According to David Scott, the founder and design team lead at Evil Genius, who spoke to io9 via email, Snyder was in frequent contact with the design team and there were “daily interactions” with members of Snyder’s team.
At the time of the alleged breach of contract, in May of 2023, the complaint asserts that the TTRPG was nearly done, and the two sellable products–a 430-page Player’s Guide and a 337-page Game Master’s Guide–were in the final editing stages. There was also a massive internal document produced: a Rebel Moon “World Bible,” detailing original details about the setting and characters of Rebel Moon which was being used as a reference for Evil Genius during the development of the TTRPG.
Because Netflix wanted to release the TTRPG just before the release of the film in December, Evil Genius alleges that it lost opportunities due to prioritizing the Rebel Moon project. Evil Genius is well-known for its franchise games, including officially licensed TTRPGs for Rambo, Godzilla, The Crow, and Escape From New York, all using Evil Genius’ Everyday Heroes system.
Netflix terminated the agreement with Evil Genius based on the claim that Evil Genius breached confidentiality provisions. There are two instances where the breach could have occurred. According to the complaint, the first instance occured when Evil Genius Games—alongside two Netflix employees—distributed images during a February trade show as part of a retailer buzz campaign. The second time was when Evil Genius Games uploaded two non-final, teaser cover images onto the back end of its site for the purposes of retailer pre-order, and through administrative error, accidentally made the portal accessible to the public. These two non-final images were uploaded to social media in May, and it was after this that Netflix terminated its agreement with Evil Genius Games.
Then, according to the complaint, in June, Netflix sent another message to Evil Genius saying that the World Bible, which includes significant chunks of worldbuilding and development that greatly expands the Rebel Moon universe far beyond the script, “belongs solely and exclusively to Netflix.” Netflix allegedly offered Evil Genius $50,000 for this property, but an agreement was not met. Evil Genius wants to release the game and receive compensation for its work.
Scott clarified via email that the proffered money “ would not cover the expenses incurred developing this game,” and that Evil Genius had been confident that it would have sold “millions of dollars worth of game products.” Additionally, the work it did on the internal World Bible exceeded the scope of the license, and the money offered “would not accurately compensate us for the contribution we made to the Rebel Moon universe.”
“Our aim is to ensure our team is recognized for their fantastic work, and that we can release this game for millions of TTRPG enthusiasts to enjoy,’’ Scott said via press release. “It’s disheartening to see Netflix backpedal on content that was jointly showcased and had received their prior consent. We urge our supporters to contact Netflix and Zack Snyder to push for the release of this game.’’
There’s another twist to this story. According to the complaint, “Mr. Snyder (and multiple Netflix executives) routinely praised the [Evil Genius’] work and was so enamored with the 228-page World Bible that he indicated that he planned on incorporating substantial elements of it into his so-called ‘Snyderverse’.” Rebel Moon is already greenlit for a sequel, Scargiver, and even more recently, Zack Snyder went on stage at Gamescon and announced that a co-op video game within the Rebel Moon universe would be developed by Super Evil Megacorp, and released exclusively on Netflix’s games streaming service.
io9 has reached out to Netflix for comment on the suit, and will update this story if we hear more.
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