The conflict between Stardock and Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III
recently reported here
was a little
hard to sort through, as Ford and Reiche suggested Stardock has no rights to
sell the older Star Control
games or use certain Star Control assets, and
Stardock indicated they have every right to sell the games and that they have no
intention of using the assets in question. Each side has followed up on this to
clarify (or possibly further confuse) the situation (thanks Rollory). Fred and
Paul have a
new blog post
making the case for their ownership of rights to sell the
older game, saying this was something confirmed by GOG.com. They also say they
are working on getting these games removed from Steam, since they are being sold
there by Stardock. They also say they have terminated their agreement with
GOG.com and are removing the games from that service as well, though it's not
clear how this relates to the Steam situation (our vast team of lawyers is on
vacation, and not available to help us understand this).
with further thoughts on the right to use game assets, and
relevant to the more recent post from Ford and Reiche, says the pair have
produced no legal documents to support their claim that they have the rights to
sell the older games, while Stardock has signed contracts to that effect. In a
more recent post
, Stardock's Brad Wardell further discusses the rights to
sell the DOS versions of these games. Here are both sides of the story, starting
with Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, aka Toys for Bob, from
the Dogar And Kazon blog
We've decided to stop selling our old
- We think it's necessary to 'clear the decks' to
help resolve our definitely-not-harmonious, until-recently-private,
months-long conflict with Brad Wardell and his lawyers at Stardock.
- The Ur-Quan Masters HD
Project is a free, vastly superior
experience. Did we mention it's free? Fans have been dedicated to improving
UQM for 15 years and it is awesome! Hopefully Star Control I and III will
also become available for free in the near future.
Why was it okay to sell the games on GoG, but not on Steam or elsewhere?
The simple answer is because we have had our own direct distribution
agreement with GOG since 2011 and no agreement with Stardock or Steam or anyone
else. If you're into details, here goes:
- In April 2011, we learned that Star Control I, II
and III had been re-published on Good Old Games (GOG) ó a big surprise since
the games hadnít been sold for years and no one had contacted us for
permission to do so.
- We reached out to GOG who said our games had been
offered to them by Atari as part of a large batch of older Atari products.
We then contacted Atari to let them know that we were the original authors
and owners of the copyright to the games and that we had not given
permission for them to republish our work. Atari checked with its lawyers
and wrote back confirming our claims, apologizing to everyone for the
mistake and informing GOG to remove the games from sale and pay any
royalties earned to us.
- Instead we suggested a way that GOG could continue
to sell our games. GOG signed separate, independent contracts with: Atari to
license the Star Control trademark, and us to license the rights to the
games themselves. GOG has been selling the games and paying us directly ever
- In October of this year, history repeated itself
when Stardock began selling our games on Steam and elsewhere (even bundled
with theirs), again without getting our permission. This time we couldn't
come to an agreement, so we asked that Stardock stop bundling and selling
the games. They refused, so we've decided to end our 2011 distribution
agreement with GOG as a first step to having the games pulled down.
Here's the more recent post from Stardock's Brad Wardell from
the Star Control Discussion Board
Nothing has changed in the sense
that the Accolade Star Control games have been digitally distributed for sale
since at least 2011 -- years before Stardock was involved.
Paul apparently made similar claims to us as they did in the post and we asked
them to show us any documentation to back up that claim, even an email from
Atari would have sufficed and they refused.
It's not like the games sell a lot of units. We have a lot of titles available
through many channels and the DOS games, admittedly, are not at the top of our
priority list. But our publishing team isn't going to just drop products when we
have a written and signed agreement. When they brought this up we said that this
was a perfect example of why we need some sort of agreement to clear this up.
They seriously need to stop making these kinds of blogs and speak to an IP
attorney. This drama is really unhelpful.