Evil Genius Games Sues Netflix Over 'Rebel Moon' Roleplaying Game

Evil Genius Games--creators of the d20 Modern-inspired Everyday Heroes RPG, with its licensed settings such as The Crow, KingL Skull Island, Pacific Rim, Highlander, and more--was all set to release a tabletop RPG based on Zack Snyder's upcoming movie Rebel Moon until the contract was cancelled by the streaming company over alleged confidentiality breaches. Evil Genius is suing Netflix for breach of contract.

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Rebel Moon, which comes out later this year, is a space opera movie featuring a peaceful moon defending itself against tyrannical invaders.

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The contract was cancelled back in May 2023, at which point Evil Genius had nearly completed the TTRPG design, with the Player's Guide and GM's Guide fully written and a 'world bible' for the setting created; the latter is an internal developer tool, which other franchises use also.

The termination is based on alleged confidentiality breaches. In addition, Netflix has asserted ownership of the world bible, which constitutes significant work undertaken by Evil Genius. The streaming company did offer to pay for that work--to the tune of $50,000--but Evil Genius did not accept that offer.

Snyder has also indicated that the contents of the world bible would be incorporated into future cinematic and video game properties.

Gizmodo spoke to Evil Genius and has more information. Additionally, Evil Genius has put up a web page about the situation.

I've since received an email from Evil Genius, and they have made a press release:


LOS ANGELES – (Sept. 28, 2023) – Evil Genius Games today sued Netflix for wrongfully terminating Evil Genius’ contract to create a tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) for the widely anticipated Rebel Moon film franchise by Zack Snyder. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

Snyder, the acclaimed director of action and science fiction films, revealed in a podcast in March 2023 that a TTRPG based on Rebel Moon was in the works, lauding the work of Evil Genius’ team of creators.

Evil Genius began working with Netflix in early 2023 and signed an official agreement with Netflix on March 22, 2023, to develop the game and related materials, promising a delivery date to coincide with the film’s release on December 22, 2023. Evil Genius paid Netflix for a license, with an agreement to share profits.

Evil Genius stopped other projects to focus on the Rebel Moon TTRPG, the lawsuit states. By May, Evil Genius had produced a 228-page World Bible (which vastly expanded on the universe envisioned by Snyder), a 430-page Player’s Guide and a 337-page Game Master’s Guide. The initial script for Rebel Moon was “missing background information vital to the story as a whole and to the world,” the lawsuit states, with Evil Genius supplying “all the missing pieces” along with “a cohesive backstory for the entire Rebel Moon franchise.” According to the lawsuit, “the speed at which the project came to fruition astounded Netflix executives, and [Evil Genius] exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Later that month, on May 25, Netflix suddenly terminated the agreement with Evil Genius, claiming the company had violated confidentiality provisions in its contract by sharing artwork at an industry trade show one month earlier. In the lawsuit, Evil Genius said the termination came as a surprise because it had sent the artwork to Netflix in advance of the event, the Game Manufacturers Association Exposition (GAMA), and Netflix had approved its use. Documents containing the artwork were handed out to retailers at GAMA by Evil Genius’ staff and two Netflix employees.

Two weeks later, Netflix notified Evil Genius that all of its work on the project “belongs solely and exclusively to Netflix,’’ the lawsuit states, with Netflix refusing to honor its agreement with Evil Genius to allow the release of the game and compensate the company for its work.

“It became clear’’ the lawsuit alleges, “that Netflix was simply using the alleged breach and termination to hijack [Evil Genius’] intellectual property and prevent [Evil Genius] from releasing the game.’’

David Scott, Evil Genius’ CEO said the decision to file a lawsuit was not made lightly.

“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. “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.’’

Evil Genius is encouraging supporters to visit Evil Genius Games, where they can sign a petition asking Netflix to acknowledge the creators of the Rebel Moon World Bible and allow Evil Genius to release the tabletop role-playing game.
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
might as well I guess. Personally I’d say they are entitled to none of it whatsoever since they did not pay for it. Even if they were to win the case, that should just mean EG cannot publish the game, not that any of it suddenly becomes Netflix’s, but what do I know
I guess it depends on the terms of the contract but I agree.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I guess it depends on the terms of the contract but I agree.

Agree.

I think that the two things people should remember are this-

1. We haven't seen the actual agreement yet.

2. We only have one side of the story. That doesn't mean it's wrong, by the way. It sounds plausible. But as a general rule, it's always best to fully evaluate information after you hear what both sides say.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
Agree.

I think that the two things people should remember are this-

1. We haven't seen the actual agreement yet.

2. We only have one side of the story. That doesn't mean it's wrong, by the way. It sounds plausible. But as a general rule, it's always best to fully evaluate information after you hear what both sides say.
We know a little bit more.
The event at GAMA did in fact happen. Netflix was in fact in attendance on stage alongside Evil Genius Games. An NDA was required to attend the event.

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
We know a little bit more.
The event at GAMA did in fact happen. Netflix was in fact in attendance on stage alongside Evil Genius Games. An NDA was required to attend the event.

View attachment 301886
View attachment 301889

Sure.

But you don’t actually know if this was the actual event that made Netflix decide to end the relationship.

Again, EGG didn’t attach the contract to the complaint, which is weird (not evil, not necessarily bad, but certainly weird). We don’t know why they have the allegations about Netflix complaining about confidentiality for some time prior to declaring the breach (they don’t attach the communications, or provide any information about the substance of those communications).

If legal cases were won based on the unverified allegations in a complaint, it would certainly streamline the process!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
if you sign an NDA to attend, how can what is being shown then break an NDA... I guess it is theoretically possible, but still, this is a bit weird
You’re confusing two things. An attendees’s NDA to attend an event is not the same thing as a licensee’s separate publishing NDA with a licensor. They are not the same people, and not the same agreements. The attendees of the event are not bound by a contract they weren’t party to any more than you are.

The question is how is the licensee’s NDA being broken given the actual presence of the licensor?
 

Epic Meepo

Adventurer
The question is how is the licensee’s NDA being broken given the actual presence of the licensor?
Is Netflix claiming EGG violated an NDA clause by displaying material approved for the GAMA trade show while attending the GAMA trade show? Or is Netflix claiming EGG violated an NDA clause by displaying material approved for the GAMA trade show somewhere else after leaving the GAMA trade show?
 

mamba

Legend
You’re confusing two things. An attendees’s NDA to attend an event is not the same thing as a licensee’s separate publishing NDA with a licensor
I would expect that the NDA is about whatever is being said / shown on that stage, so if the one hearing the talk is covered by an NDA, then the one giving it is not really breaking their NDA, assuming the two NDAs are about the same topic, which I would expect here
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I would expect that the NDA is about whatever is being said / shown on that stage, so if the one hearing the talk is covered by an NDA, then the one giving it is not really breaking their NDA, assuming the two NDAs are about the same topic, which I would expect here
I can’t even parse that long sentence! But I’ll reiterate that Netflix allegedly cancelled the contract because they claim EG breached the ND clauses of the publishing license. The NDA that any attendees to that event may or may not have signed is entirely separate. I mean, there may be language in the license saying that EG can show the material to anybody who also signs a separate NDA with them, but there’s no suggestion of that. So the only question remains is why was there a Netflix representative on stage at this alleged breach?

We haven’t seen the contract. We don’t know. All we can do is guess. It sounds like Netflix is waaaaay off base, but it’s important to remember that (a) we’ve only heard one side’s version and (b) we haven’t seen the contract.

I think probably EG has a case. But I’m not confident enough in my knowledge of the situation to put money on it. EG has gone very early to the court of public opinion, without revealing the actual agreement, which I wouldn’t do in their position. If you have a case, what is the purpose of the petition? That isn’t going to resolve a lawsuit. Which suggests that they are hoping to avoid one—why?

Again, I’d like to see the contract. But that was omitted from the filing. And I’d like hear the other side, but of course Netflix will be saving that for the court hearing.

I want to side with EG, and in principle I support a small publisher over a corporation, but I’ll reserve judgement until I have more information.
 

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