As the entire economy is collapsing and people are desperately trying to figure out how they’re going to pay their bills amid a deadly viral pandemic, The Walking Dead’s co-creator Robert Kirkman would very much like to be paid for his intellectual property.
TMZ reports that Kirkman’s company, RK LLC, is suing Disruptor Beam Inc., the studio behind 2017's mobile game The Walking Dead: March to War. The company is asking Disruptor to make good on its agreement to pay Kirkman $690,000 as part of its larger deal (which was signed in 2014) to pay him $500,000 annually to license The Walking Dead IP. According to the report, Kirkman’s company says that while the video gaming studio has been good about honoring the deal in the past, payments to him have recently halted. TMZ’s article says that in documents it obtained, Disruptor told Kirkman it would be stopping payments “until further notice.”
What Disruptor Beam has been doing as of late is going through a rebranding (the company is now called Beamable), and shifting its focus to assisting game developers in bringing new products to market. That’s admirable on paper but doesn’t exactly square away with the reality that it still owes a creator a sizable chunk of cash.
Considering that we’re living in a time when the economy’s been brought to its knees and it’s unclear how and when large swaths of the public are going to be able to return to their jobs, it’s easy to appreciate this fight from both sides. Kirkman’s got the right to demand that the company make good on the contract that it agreed to—but at the same time, it’s not hard to understand why Beamable might not have the cash on hand to pay up the way that it could in the past.
Because Kirkman’s company (Kirkman himself is no stranger to Walking Dead-related litigation) is suing Beamable, it doesn’t seem as if he has any interest in letting bygones be bygones and has every intention of collecting what he’s owed. How Beamable’s going to respond, though, remains to be seen.
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