Billy Mitchell and Twin Galaxies have settled a five year lawsuit over Billy’s high scores.
Established by Walter Day in 1981, Twin Galaxies established a database for video game high scores, helping to form the first competitive community around video games. Today, Twin Galaxies is owned by entertainment and gaming producer Jace Hall.
Among those gamers who set records is hot sauce entrepeneur Billy Mitchell. While he is best known for chasing Donkey Kong world records thanks to the documentary King of Kong, Billy’s most notable achievement is being the first to reach the perfect score at Pac-Man, a distinction for which Namco themselves recognized him for.
As successful as Billy has been, he has also been a constantly controversial figure. Allegations that he has been cheating on some of the records, including leveraging his personal friendships with people in Twin Galaxies, as well as flat out faking his submissions, have been going around for years.
This defamation suit revolved around a single incident in 2017, when Donkey Kong Forums moderator Jeremy Young saw red flags in submissions Billy made for high scores he claimed he set on Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. The main allegation was that Billy had played these games on MAME, and tried submitting them as scores for the games on original hardware.
It became a legal matter when Twin Galaxies revealed that their investigation concluded that Billy did not play these games on original hardware and removed all of his high scores. Guinness World Records than pointed out they used Twin Galaxies as basis for their scores, so they would strike Billy’s scores from their records as well.
Billy sued Twin Galaxies for defamation, as well as Jeremy Young and YouTuber ApolloLegend, who made videos about the issue. We won’t run down five years of legal action here, but as reported by Ars Technica, both sides recently agreed to a settlement before going forward with an actual trial.
The settlement terms do not seem to allow any party to discuss them, but Twin Galaxies attorney David Tashroudian opined that they decided to settle to avoid the high legal costs that further litigation would ensure.
We do know that after the settlement, Twin Galaxies created a new section of recordkeeping called “The Original TG Historical Database.” Billy Mitchell’s old records, many of which have since been broken, appear in this historical database.
It remains to be seen if the settlement allows Billy to submit new scores to Twin Galaxies, or if his lifetime ban from 2018 still holds. While Billy can claim to have been vindicated, it’s clear that his reputation is permanently damaged to many people.