Def Jam Rapstar was a flop. The Konami-published, Terminal Reality-developed karaoke game released in 2010 right as the music genre popularized by Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and Singstar was imploding, paving the way for dance titles like Just Dance. It sold just about 500,000 copies across Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. The game has gone on to cause a whole lot more trouble for the parties involved in its development.
According to the Courthouse News Service, City National Bank claimed in superior court that Konami and co-publisher Autumn Games defrauded the bank to secure a $14 million dollar loan to produce Rapstar. In the two years since the game released, Autumn and Konami have yet to pay back the loan. CNB’s complaint reads: “CNB has recently learned that defendants’ representations concerning financial conditions and repayment of the loan—both before and after the loan was approved—were false at the time they were made and that defendants never had any intention of repaying the loan as promised. Rather than pay game-related proceeds directly to CNB as agreed, defendants have kept all game-related proceeds for themselves and have refused to remit any such proceeds to CNB.”
The loan, CNB says, was made on “unrealistic projections.” Konami claimed it would sell 2.5 million copies of the game, five times what the game actually sold on its release. The truth is that the proceeds CNB is owed don’t exist.
We reached out to Autumn Games and Konami to discuss CNB’s claims but as of this writing neither publisher has returned our inquiries.
Def Jam Rapstar has proven a curse for its developers as well. Producers 4mm game and developer Terminal Reality, whose recent Kinect Star Wars has been a huge hit, were sued by record label EMI in March. The label claimed that the studios still hadn’t paid owed royalties for using songs by artists like Kanye West and Li’l Wayne.
The lawsuit was especially strange as EMI claims only part ownership of the songs used in Rapstar. The game was actually produced by Def Jam Interactive, a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group, who owns rights to the majority of tracks available in the game.