Wil Wheaton, best known for his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory, has filed a breach of contract suit against digital outfit Geek & Sundry, a company he has worked with and helped build by creating some of the most well-known tabletop gaming properties that exist online today. Wil Wheaton helped produce the series Tabletop, a live-action and highly edited series wherein celebrity guests from within and without the gaming industry would feature. The core concept was built around the idea of teaching people to play increasingly fun and complex board games, and it was wildly successful.
Later, Wheaton would also work with Geek & Sundry to write, host and act as executive producer on a new short web series, Titansgrave: The Ashes Of Valkana. The show focused on a role-playing game that Wheaton himself developed that took players on adventures through a complex cyberpunk world. The show was rather popular, although never reaching the height of the exceptional lighting-in-a-bottle that was the Dungeons & Dragons live show, Critical Role. It’s the former of these two RPG shows that’s the focus of a new lawsuit filed by Wheaton this week.
The suit — filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Wheaton and his company, Media Dynamics — says that Geek & Sundry and Wheaton had entered into an agreement where he would lead production on the show, and be paid $50,000 plus a 50% royalty, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Wheaton is seeking up to $100,000 in damages from Geek & Sundry and their parent company, and it’s currently unclear if he was paid at all or just shorted. Though the lawsuit also alleges that Legend is blocking Wheaton from reviewing the financials so he can audit to check if he was properly paid. The actor is also asking the court to order an independent audit in relation to the case. A key element within said case is that parent company Legend held exclusive rights to the marketing and distribution of the show, an aspect which Wheaton alleges was abused when the company negotiated with various online properties to distribute the show without consulting him.
This is seemingly another in a long string of bad happenings for Geek & Sundry, and things aren’t looking good. Wheaton’s signature show Tabletop was among the three big names in terms of content for the companies online presence. The monumental success that is Critical Role led the charge to the top for the gaming and nerd-related brand, buoyed by Spellslingers and a stable of other niche content. But since all three of these shows have either ceased production, or in the case of Critical Role moved to their own brand; well, things have not been good financially for Geek & Sundry. The paid subscriber numbers on their main Twitch channel have plumetted after losing these key shows though, with barely more than 1,000 currently paying the channel on the platform, down from an enormous high of more than 50,000 in January 2018.
It remains to be seen what their parent company, Legend Entertainment, plans to do, as they continue to hemorrhage subscribers and their view counts on YouTube have also fallen. The loss of multiple key hosts, creative executives and behind-the-scenes staff has also hurt efforts to try and pivot into new territory to make up for their shortcomings. Legend launched their own paid streaming platform, Alpha, in 2016. The effort met with great success at first, but was shuttered entirely earlier this year as income dropped.