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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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I messaged you. :)

Thank you! Brief thoughts on the complaint as I read through it.

Procedural stuff.
Filed in C.D. Cal. (Federal Court, Central District of California, Wester Div.). That's LA and surrounding areas.
Jurisdiction is based on ... copyright claims ... which is weird, because I didn't see a copyright claim in the caption. Ok

Snyder pitched Netflix on the whole Rebel Moon franchise idea, including a TTRPG.
EG then pitched their concept to Netflix and Snyder, and they liked it. This led to the licensing agreement (Agreement).
(Another weird thing- they didn't attach a copy of the Agreement to the complaint.)
Actual financial details- EG paid a $7500 advance, with another $15k due in 2024 and 2025. In addition, Netflix would get a share of profits of certain related goods.

Okay, now I see the meat- according to the complaint, the script from Rebel Moon was missing a lot of details ... you know, the whole world-building thing people want when they make franchises. And so EG made a "World Bible" to make it all cohesive. The example they use is that the script refers to an "Alien 1" and the Bible gave Alien 1 a name, age, origin, and a history of its home planet.

Which led to Snyder/Netflix saying that the stuff from the Bible are / would be incorporated into the film or other works ....

(Insert I have a bad feeling about this gif).

According to EG, Netflix then accused EG of breaching the confidentiality provisions of the agreement, using that to terminate the agreement.

Then there's just the usual scuttlebutt (Netflix is a meanie, they tried to pay us off ... which, um, is interesting in that is usually not something you in a complaint, but it depends on the context).

Causes of Action
1. Breach of K.
Pretty self-explanatory; the claim is that Netflix (I am using Netflix to mean all Defendants) breached the Agreement, and that Netflix has to perform to the contract (specific performance) or in the alternative, that the Agreement is rescinded and EG gets restitution. Basic stuff, but ... the Agreement is the license, so that's going to be an issue.

2. Breach of Implied Covenant of Goof Faith and Fair Dealing
This is the whole, "You didn't breach the terms of the Agreement, but you violated the spirit, yo!" Eh. Always tough.

3. Quantum Meruit.
Pay me for the work we did.

4. Unjust Enrichment.
It's not equitable (fair) that Netflix benefitted from being able to link the Snyderverse together using EG's work without paying Plaintiff.
Side note- each of these counts has a minimum jurisdiction requirement. WHAT???

5. Dec action.
Declare that Netflix is a bunch of poopy-heads. Just kidding! EG wants the court to declare that they own the rights to the works that they made. Basically.

Look, I'm going to be quick. There's the factual issues, and then the legal issues. Factually, I can smell what the Rock EG is cooking. You don't have to read between the lines to understand that the basic claim is this-
1. They did all this work on the TTRPG.
2. Some of this work included the World Bible.
3. The actual "Rebel Moon" Snyderverse was ... underdeveloped.
4. Netflix and/or Snyder began using the Bible to develop the Rebel Moon Snyderverse (RMS?).
5. Someone was like, "Oh snap. We need to make sure we actually own this stuff."
6. So Netflix decided to claim EG was in breach of the Agreement, and then tried to force EG to hand over the Bible.

Obviously, this is just one side of the story. And truth is a three-edged sword ... there is Netflix's truth, EG's truth, and then there is Snarf's truth (aka, the absolute truth) so we'll see.

I am a little more concerned about the legal irregularities in the Complaint. It's not that it's bad, per se, it's just ... not quite right. Let me explain-

1. It's a complaint largely based on a single contract. The five counts are, roughly, "They breached that contract, they didn't act in good faith with regard to that contract, they should pay us despite the contract, they should pay despite the contract (part 2), and this court should declare our rights ... under the contract." So what's missing? Yeah, the contract. It's normally standard practice to attach the contract to a complaint like this. Under Federal Pleading Standards, you aren't required to attach it .. but it's odd. For example, at a minimum I'd like to be able to read the provisions of the Agreement; not all confidentiality provisions are the same.

2. They filed in federal court, but there is a questionable basis for federal jurisdiction. You either have to have a federal claim, or diversity jurisdiction. The parties are not diverse, even though there are repeated reference to the minimum jurisdiction of the court (for either state court purposes or federal court). The complaint asserts jurisdiction for copyright claims. The declaratory action states it sounds under copyright, but the law in that area is ... well, you have to be able to assert that the defendant would make a coercive claim under federal law, so it's a different analysis, and it really looks like EB is actually asking for a declaration of its rights under the contract, and tossed that in for jurisdictional purposes.

Still with all that said, the allegations are certainly harsh and at this stage, believable. Although there are hints of other things that might have went on (for example, the "fronting" of the allegations that Netflix was unhappy with EG's CEO's response to Netflix's concerns about confidentiality).


I am guessing the number of people even aware of that game, let alone likely to actually buy it, is miniscule next to the number of people who care about Zack Snyder's Not-Star Wars.
I tend to doubt that Snyder Wars has thar much if a built in audience: apparently the Snyder Cut of JL was a bomb for Max. Stiff like this RPG would be part of building a fan interest. Letting it come to lawsuits is dumb brand management.


Thanks for the analysis Snarf.

Still with all that said, the allegations are certainly harsh and at this stage, believable. Although there are hints of other things that might have went on (for example, the "fronting" of the allegations that Netflix was unhappy with EG's CEO's response to Netflix's concerns about confidentiality).
Yeah, so far we only have the "he said" part of the "he said/she said". I have no problem with a declaratory judgment that Netflix is a bunch of poopy-heads (I've said worse) but I do want to read their version of what they think happened. The idea that the things EG alleges are the only possible things Netflix could call a breach of confidentiality don't pass the smell test in that they're so minor and clearly one of them was Netflix approved so how is it even a breach? And the amount of money they were going to pay EG is a pittance - they'll spend more than $37K on the lawsuit - so trying to weasel out because they don't want to spend the money anymore doesn't really pass the smell test either.

There's more here. I agree that with only what we see so far it really sounds like the setting bible is the issue, but I don't see Netflix's rationale in breaking the contract and then asserting ownership over it instead of keeping the contract and then asserting ownership of it.

Epic Meepo

The logical part of my brain is reserving judgment on this whole situation. The creative part of my brain is imagining the following conversation taking place in a Netflix boardroom:

Netflix Suit #1: "Bad news guys. The screenwriters' strike is over and we have to pay them for their work, now."

Netflix Suit #2: "But how are we supposed to make money if we can't stiff the screenwriters?"

Netflix Suit #3: "I've got it! Let's stiff the game writers, instead. They aren't covered by the screenwriters' contract."

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