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Games Your Rights Online

8-Year Fan-Made Game Project Shut Down By Activision 265

An anonymous reader writes "Activision, after acquiring Vivendi, became the new copyright holder of the classic King's Quest series of adventure game. They have now issued a cease and desist order to a team which has worked for eight years on a fan-made project initially dubbed a sequel to the last official installment, King's Quest 8. This stands against the fact that Vivendi granted a non-commercial license to the team, subject to Vivendi's approval of the game after submission. After the acquisition, key team members had indicated on the game's forums (now stripped of their original content by order of Activision) that Activision had given the indication that it intended to keep its current fan-game licenses, but was not interested in issuing new ones."
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8-Year Fan-Made Game Project Shut Down By Activision

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  • by nataflux ( 1733716 ) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:30AM (#31312486)
    I remember a time when Activision made their own games, a personal favorite: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 was one of them. Is it really inevitable that developers that turn into publishers become malicious to the gamers and to other developers? Hopefully such publishers (and larger developers) will go way of EA, that they deserve, I just hope that all the developers I have come to love don't go down these dark roads. Right now is really bad time for the gaming industry. Almost a dark age if you will.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:35AM (#31312504)

    Activision may be worried about cannibalizing their anticipated back catalog sales with the recently announced GOG.com deal. The Kings Quest games are in the process of being re-released on GOG.com. Kings Quest 4+5+6 went up for sale less than a week ago. http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/king’s_quest_4_5_6

  • by eeCyaJ ( 881578 ) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:42AM (#31312536)
    Gwah? They picked a fight?

    From TFA: "Recently, however, ownership of the Sierra IP changed hands and became the property of Activision. After talks and negotiations in the last few months between ourselves and Activision, they have reached the decision that they are not interested in granting a non-commercial license to The Silver Lining, and have asked that we cease production and take down all related materials on our website."

    Sounds more organised than some businesses I could name. Doesn't sound like fighting. Maybe they're a little bitter, but 8 years of work being flushed down the tube - whatever the reason - would tend to do that.
  • by msclrhd ( 1211086 ) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:43AM (#31312546)

    Set a limit of 10 years or similar, after which if there are no new games (and even films) then the universe/characters enter into the public domain like is done for copyright.

    This gives enough time for a company to continue a series, and allows fans of franchises that have not seen activity by a company free reign.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:54AM (#31312602) Journal

    That's kind of a good idea, but 10 years is too short time, especially now that we've starting to see a lot more re-releases and ports to current generation PC's and consoles of old games. Copyrights last a lot longer too. Losing control over IP is even more serious than over copyright of a single product. Losing the whole IP to the public domain means some idiots can seriously ruin the image of it.

    Also, the idea of limiting control over IP goes directly against the reason why we actually have copyright laws. Copyright is meant to protect and enable the income of author and everyone involved for a period of time to fuel the innovation and creating something. If you release IP to public domain it does exactly the different - decreases innovation that goes making new IP. Isn't it the usual rant on slashdot anyway that game companies should come up more with new stuff?

  • by superbus1929 ( 1069292 ) on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:11AM (#31312726) Homepage
    But was there an actual contract?

    That's not a rhetorical question. I'm actually wondering if there was, and what it was. This might be rendered null and void due to ownership transferral (as in, Activision owns Vivendi, and now has full, autonomous say over their IPs)
  • by WebManWalking ( 1225366 ) on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:19AM (#31312776)
    Yes, when you buy another company, you buy its liabilities along with its assets. If Vivendi had an agreement that it must honor, Activision also bought the liability of being bound by that same agreement.

    Tort lawyers prefer to get paid a cut of the judgment, so it doesn't matter how much money the fan-developers have.
  • Re:Boo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:41AM (#31312902)
    Activision will never shape up, mainly because Bobby Kotick [wikipedia.org] is a ruthless, cut-throat bastard who couldn't care less about the gaming community. His disdain for gamers, the very people who provide his meal ticket, has been exhaustively documented. These guys are the worst of the worst, and have long since lost my patronage.
  • Re:Boo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by telso ( 924323 ) on Monday March 01, 2010 @04:42AM (#31313202)
    Civ II was MicroProse [wikipedia.org] (ahh, that list takes me back); Activision did Call to Power [wikipedia.org].

    What I remember Activision for was the original MechWarrior game [wikipedia.org]. I had to underclock my 486DX2-66 (still in my (mom's) basement (no, I don't live down there...yet)) to 10 MHz so the "robots" moved at a reasonable speed [abandonia.com]. Of course, when starting at opposite ends of the battlefield, it was much quicker to hit the turbo button and jump back up to 66 MHz till they started firing on you and then slow down again. One run in which the button didn't uncatch, leading to many frantic pushes, resulted in having to sell two Battlemechs just to cover repair costs.

    Gosh, /., couldn't you have run this story during the day, when I didn't need to go to sleep? Ah, well, off to DOSBox.
  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:39AM (#31313506) Journal

    It's even simpler than that. The common mis-belief, and in the summary again, is that Activision bought Vivendi. It's the other way around, Vivendi bought Activision and now Vivendi owns Activision Blizzard. I don't see where their old licensing would had moved.

  • Re:Boo (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @07:58AM (#31314136)

    Couldn't they just swap around some character names and references to King's Quest and just continue their fan game as an original IP?

  • Re:Boo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MacGyver2210 ( 1053110 ) on Monday March 01, 2010 @08:07AM (#31314186)
    Activision has always been concerned primarily about money from the beginning, and creativity and quality products second.
    It's pretty apparent they could give less of a shit about any of their customers.
    In fact, Activision is only CALLED Activision because they wanted to supercede ATARI on all of the alphabetical listings to drive up sales.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham