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

TTRPG cancelled over alleged confidentiality breaches results in lawsuit.

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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Von Ether

I suspect it's a great movie to watch if you're not worried about hearing any of the dialogue. So a good watch-while-cooking movie, or people-over-to-the-house-talking-while-Netflix-is-on movie.
LOL! I am getting flashbacks.
When I was a kid, all of the elder men in my family wanted to sit in the same room as the TV and talk AT each other. They expected the kids to either sit there and "learn something," or go outside. And if the TV was on, they would shout to drown it out.

What they were talking about? I was 10 years old and didn't I care, I just wanted to watch some reruns or cartoons.

Closed captioning would have been a godsend.

So reading was my escape, a lot of reading - which eventually became RPG books.


I have to imagine Evil Genius is experiencing a lot of mixed feelings right now.
Sounds about right.

Whenever a good game designer sets out to make a licensed product, they should do their best to become enthusiastic about the source material and effectively become a fan of it. For me, that doesn't mean I have to like everything about it, but I at least need to find parts of it I can connect with, and understand what others love about it.

So everyone on that team put a lot of heart into trying to make a great game based on the vision for Rebel Moon and to contribute their own ideas and passion towards the world building behind it. And while the team felt spurned by Netflix, they really enjoyed working with Snyder and the creative people he worked with. So it's defiantly a mixed feeling because on one hand, we have some resentment towards Netflix for putting our work on ice, but love for Rebel Moon as a world to play in.

One think I learned doing our Cinematic Adventures is that the connection between a movie and a licensed game has unique dimensions to it. Some aspects of a film, especially its dialog and plot, don't really come across into a game. Game designers care about the world building, lore, and tone of the story, basically all the background stuff because that is what a GM is going to use to set their game and the tools the players will use to make their unique characters and stories. The things critics will care most about, storytelling, acting, dialog... are not things that move from the film into a game adaptation.

As a movie watcher, I my favorite part of almost all Zack Snyder movies are the visuals. They are usually cool looking films and that really inspires me creatively. The melodrama style he tends to write in is not so much to my taste. Ultimately, Zack was super fun to work with and treated our team of game writers like equal colleagues in a creative process. He wanted to be hands on and connected to the game we were making and that is incredibly rare so we all have a soft spot in our hearts for the man and his work.

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
To the extent anyone is still curious about this case, Netflix filed its answer and affirmative defenses.

Netflix also filed counterclaims, available here-

As should be obvious, Netflix's story is very different than the one Evil Genius states in its complaint. Basiscally, Netflix is saying that they had a contract, and EG breached the contract, ignored Netflix, and ginned up a PR campaign. Moreover, they go into detail about how (in their opinion) EG is deliberately underplaying the contributions of Snyder and overstating their own (by alleging, inter alia, that EG is claiming that the script hadn't been finished when, in fact, two full movies had already finished production).

Specifically, Netflix alleges that the two Rebel Moon movies had finished production on December 2, 2022, while EG didn't enter into the agreement until February 1, 2023.

The major breaking point appeared to have occurred at the GAMA Expo, where Netflix authorized a very limited discussion, but EG's CEO ("Scott") released additional unauthorized information for purposes of pre-sales - including art that was later widely distributed. Which is what led to the breakdown, but I would assume that what really happened was in paragraphs 46 and 47 of the counterclaim; in other words, when Netflix complained about it, EG basically said, "No big deal." That was the end.

As always, complaints (and counterclaims) are just allegations- both sides setting out their story. That said, the counterclaims are well-written, and some of the causes of action (such as the Lanham Act) seem well-founded.

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
As we all know, PR campaigns are illegal.

Of course not. The gravamen of the counterclaim is that this isn't a legal dispute. Instead, EG was in the wrong and that they used a PR campaign instead of abiding by the contract.

Remember- complaints (and a counterclaim is the Defendant's complaint) are not just about putting together your allegations into a way that support your causes of action; it's also about telling a narrative. The narrative from Netflix is very different than that of EG (obviously), and they are saying that prior to, and in conjunction with, filing the Complaint, EG engaged in a PR campaign that was "self-help" in order to allow them to continue using Netflix's IP.

Obviously, this isn't the truth (anymore than EG's complaint was the truth), but it is best to at least see that there are two sides. And from my P.O.V., knowing nothing about the actual facts, I have to say that legally, Netflix's position seems a little better articulated. That's not a moral judgment, by the way. Anyway, given this is civil litigation, it's just posturing. These cases always settle.

Just got an email from Evil Genius Games, looks like the case is settled:

"The following is a joint statement prepared by us and Netflix relating to the recently resolved litigation between us.

“The parties are pleased that they were able to amicably resolve this dispute. Netflix thanks Evil Genius for their hard work and professionalism.”

We will not be releasing a Rebel Moon game, but stay tuned for more amazing Cinematic Adventures and an upcoming sci-fi project. And thank you again for your amazing support!

If you are a retailer who preordered the Rebel Moon game in advance, be on the lookout for a follow-up email within the next 7-10 days on how to process your refund.

D. Todd Scott
Evil Genius Games. Inc."


stay tuned for more amazing Cinematic Adventures and an upcoming sci-fi project
What do we think the odds are that they got to keep the story/world bible and are repurposing it for their upcoming project?

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