Games that no longer support their creators


In Games Industry - posted on Fri 3rd February 2012 6. 23PM

 


While the debate around piracy is often nuanced and riddled with moral complexities, many people will agree that the developers of a game should receive payment for their work. Below I present an incomplete list of PC games where the developers no longer receive payment for their creations. I wont offer an editorial, think of it what you will.

Ion Storm:


Anachronox
Daikatana
Deus Ex
Deus Ex: Invisible War
Dominion
Thief: Deadly Shadows

Looking Glass Studios:


Thief: The Dark Project
Thief II: The Metal Age
System Shock
System Shock 2
Flight Unlimited Series

Troika Games:


Arcanum
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines.

Pandemic Studios:


Battlezone II
Dark Reign 2
Army Men: RTS
Full Spectrum Warrior
Star Wars: Battlefront
Star Wars: Battlefront II
Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
The Lord of the Rings: Conquest
The Saboteur

Bullfrog:


Fusion
Populous
Flood
Powermonger
Populous II
Syndicate
Magic Carpet
Theme Park
Syndicate: American Revolt
Tube
Hi-Octane
Magic Carpet 2
Genewars
Syndicate Wars
Dungeon Keeper
Theme Hospital
Populous: The Beginning
Theme Aquarium
Dungeon Keeper 2
Theme Park World

Bizarre Creations:


Fur Fighters
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
The Club
Blur
James Bond 007: Blood Stone

Mythos Games:


UFO: Enemy Unknown
X-COM: Apocalypse
Magic & Mayhem

Black Isle Studios:


Fallout 2
Planescape: Torment
Icewind Dale
Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter
Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter - Trials of the Luremaster
Icewind Dale II
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II

Westwood Studios:


Lands of Lore series
Dune 1,2,2000, Emperor battle for.
Earth & Beyond
Command & Conquer series (1995-2002)

Realtime Worlds:


Crackdown
All Points Bulletin

Climax / Black Rock:


MotoGP '07
Pure
Split Second: Velocity

Headfirst Productions:


Simon the Sorcerer 3D (gah!)
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Gray Matter Interactive:


Quake II: The Reckoning
Redneck Rampage Rides Again
Cyberia
Cyberia 2: Resurrection

Illusion Softworks:


Hidden & Dangerous
Hidden & Dangerous: Fight for Freedom
Flying Heroes
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven
Vietcong
Hidden & Dangerous 2
Hidden & Dangerous 2: Sabre Squadron
Vietcong 2

Innerloop Studios:


JSF - Joint Strike Fighter
Project I.G.I
Xtreme Sports
I.G.I. 2

Holistic Design:


Final Liberation

Dynamix:


MechWarrior
Starsiege
Starsiege: Tribes
Red Baron 3-D
Tribes 2

Sir-Tech:


Wizardry Gold
Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games
Jagged Alliance 2
Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business

Team Bondi:


L.A. Noire

Ensemble Studios:


Age of Empires
Age of Empires II
Age of Mythology
Age of Empires III

Core Design:


Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider II
Tomb Raider III
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Tomb Raider Chronicles
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Iron Lore Entertainment:


Titan Quest

Kaos Studios


Frontlines: Fuel of War
Homefront

Propaganda Games


Turok
Tron: Evolution

Random Games Inc.


Vikings
Wages of War
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate

Aeon Electronic Entertainment, Inc.


Silent Hunter
Silent Hunter II

DreamForge


War Wind
War Wind II
Warhammer 40,000: Rites of War

FASA Studio


MechCommander
MechCommander 2
MechWarrior 4: Vengeance
MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries

Mucky Foot


Startopia
Urban Chaos

Rage Software


Midnight GT
Incoming
Gun Metal
Expendable
Microsoft International Football
Millennium Soldier
Rage Rally
E-racer
Eurofighter Typhoon
Hostile Waters
Mobile Forces

The Bitmap Brothers


The Chaos Engine 2
Z
Speedball 2100
Z: Steel Soldiers
World War II Frontline Command

StormRegion


S.W.I.N.E.
Codename: Panzers Phase One
Codename: Panzers Phase Two
Rush for Berlin
Rush for the Bomb
Codename: Panzers Cold War

This is only a taste, there are many hundreds left to compile.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this blog are solely my own and not those of my employer, sponsors or research centre.

(68) comments :

Comment by Manasés Gudiño on Fri 3rd February 2012 11. 59PM

Interesting list, i expected to see only very old games.

 

Comment by John Evans on Sat 4th February 2012 1. 16AM

Upon what research is this list based?

 

Comment by Simon Roth on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 04AM

Manases: Yeah its sad to see so many studios die in such a short time.

John Evans: A mix of asking developer I know, messaging ones I don't, crowdsourcing on twitter and a lot of google-fu.

 

Comment by ? on Sat 4th February 2012 7. 03AM

Why is this list presented without any links to supporting evidence? Where does this information come from?

 

Comment by Simon Roth on Sat 4th February 2012 1. 43PM

Stated above. Why do I not add the supporting evidence? Because a lot of it is from people involved who do not want their name attached. Plus adding that would take forever and Im only doing this to get people thinking.

 

Comment by Nick Wheeler on Sat 4th February 2012 1. 53PM

Absolutely tragic to see so many developers getting absolutely nothing from some amazing franchises.

On the other hand, how many of the individuals working on those titles still work for those developers?

 

Comment by Nick Wheeler on Sat 4th February 2012 1. 54PM

Absolutely tragic to see so many developers getting absolutely nothing from some amazing franchises.

On the other hand, how many of the individuals working on those titles still work for those developers?

 

Comment by wondering on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 07PM

Hmmm why is this? Would be nice to know how the situation came about.

 

Comment by Johnny Cooper on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 07PM

So that means that the distribution plateform get everything ? on Steam Age of Empires 3 is still around $35.

 

Comment by Nick Wheeler on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 07PM

Absolutely tragic to see so many developers getting absolutely nothing from some amazing franchises.

On the other hand, how many of the individuals working on those titles still work for those developers?

 

Comment by Andrew Haining on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 08PM

It's a false argument, the creators were compensated at the time of release almost no product on the face of the earth is royalty based, if you think it should be that is a different matter, but like morrisey these people had the choice between retaining the copyright & not going with a publisher or handing over the copyright in exchange for money & they picked the latter.

 

Comment by Alcarendor on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 08PM

Most of the developers of this list don't exist now: Bullfrog, Troika, Ion Storm, Ensemble... It's normal that a dissapeared developer don't offer support.

 

Comment by Johnny Cooper on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 08PM

So that means that the distribution plateform get everything ? on Steam Age of Empires 3 is still around $35.

 

Comment by V on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 09PM

Interesting that many of these are being sold on GoG.com...

 

Comment by Random Passerby on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 11PM

What about World in Conflict?

 

Comment by su on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 11PM

<3 to some of the devs whose games I still play like Blur and LA noir Such a shame

 

Comment by Faiter119 on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 12PM

Seeing Pandemic studios dosnt exist anymore. Its no wonder their not getting money for there games. Though their games are AWESOME! (Star wars: Battlefront 1 and 2)

 

Comment by Jo Marth on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 13PM

I'm not sure I understand. Does this mean that if I buy a copy of one of those games, no money will go to the developers or that those games don't sell enough anymore?

 

Comment by su on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 13PM

<3 to some of the devs whose games I still play like Blur and LA noir Such a shame

 

Comment by Faiter119 on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 15PM

Seeing Pandemic studios dosnt exist anymore. Its no wonder their not getting money for there games. Though their games are AWESOME! (Star wars: Battlefront 1 and 2)

AKA: Feel free to pirate all the games on this list.

 

Comment by Andrew Barker on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 17PM

@Johnny Cooper no most of that money goes to the publisher Which in the case of AOE3 is Microsoft game studios. Steam will take the same cut they do for most games.

 

Comment by Maffia on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 19PM

"Comment by Johnny Cooper on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 08PM

So that means that the distribution plateform get everything ? on Steam Age of Empires 3 is still around $35."

No, because in this case Microsoft Game Studios bought the rights to the Age Of.... franchise when the bought ES, so the money goes to MGS in this case.

 

Comment by Jacob Phoenix on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 21PM

An interesting list indeed, though one small probem I see with it is that how far did the research in this go? Like did the people that work to develope such games work for the same company still? Did the company go belly up(for a lack of better wording.)? Did the games get traded off to another company? Things like that are what I wonder reading this because I know that a good portion of these games still sell on steam. I am pretty sure some of them are so ol now that they will not work on most computers either which puts them in the obsolet bin and would be better listed as freeware. Anyone remember masters of magic? Can not play it anymore without getting a DOS Emulator to run it even somewhat decently now due to no DOS on windows systems anymore. Anyways, like I said in the beginning, and interesting list.

 

Comment by Anon22 on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 33PM

I think that John Romero is probably glad to no longer have his name associated with Daikatana.

 

Comment by qptain Nemo on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 46PM

I love that this list starts with Anachronox.
I love the purpose of this list.
I love you.
I bow to you with my deepest respect, sir.

 

Comment by qptain Nemo on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 47PM

I love that this list starts with Anachronox.
I love the purpose of this list.
I love you.
I bow to you with my deepest respect, sir.

 

Comment by qptain Nemo on Sat 4th February 2012 2. 48PM

Oops, I'm really sorry for that triple (now quadruple) posting, i was redirected to an errorneous page after leaving a comment, I was sure it didn't get posted. Feel free to delete the two duplicate ones as well as this one.

 

Comment by Chris Carver on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 09PM

Odd that notch retweeted this.
Not sure what this is supossed to get people thinking about exactly. Seems more like you made this list and implied a lot to get people up in arms over... what exactly?

Publisher are evil? DRM is bad? I'm not sure how this list shows that other than vaguely linking through your choice of words.

Look, it's been said here already, these developers got paid for their product. They weren't tricked. They weren't taken advantage of anymore than anyone takes advantage of another party in a business dealing.

 

Comment by Mike on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 15PM

I just wanna say that most of these games are wicked old, as in from around 2000. I'm not shocked they dont make money anymore.

 

Comment by Mike on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 16PM

I just wanna say that most of these games are wicked old, as in from around 2000. I'm not shocked they dont make money anymore.

 

Comment by Chris Carver on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 17PM

Also, a major issue with this list is listing only AAA titles so to speak on it thus far. In other words, you've listed nothing but finically successful titles here. The list for flops that are also no longer supporting their developers (not from being flops, but from the same logic you are using with these AAA titles, meaning the developers no longer get royalties or have lost IP control over the product etc;) far outceeds this list.

tldr; your list reads as a lot of hyperbole

 

Comment by Chronium on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 20PM

There's a lot of problems with this list.

1) Many of those studios were owned by a publisher and would not be paid in royalties.

2) Many of those games were sold to publishers so the developers still won't get royalties the publisher does.

3) The only developers that would be getting royalties are the ones that completely own their product or have it written up in their contract with the publisher. Which in that case they have grounds to sue people.


 

Comment by explosivose on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 41PM

I've thought about this before. It sucks that the people behind the game are not paid for their previous work, but they never really owned the game in the first place.

They developed property for the company they worked for. The money goes to whoever holds the licenses to these games. Pointless list really

 

Comment by Tseug on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 46PM

But should they really be paid for them today? Were they not paid when they sold the rights? If you're in favor for an un-transferable form of Intellectual Property I could see the argument that they should still recieve money from them, but most people are not.

 

Comment by SkyboxWriter on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 47PM

Uh, more or less ALL of the devs you listed here aren't in existence anymore. If they went under long ago, it sort of makes sense that they don't receive any more royalties. Unless you mean that you feel individuals should get residuals anyway even after their companies go out of business?

 

Comment by Kevin on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 50PM

I'm confused, does this mean I can pirate the games now because the original developers are no longer getting any of the cut?

What about all the others involved in the distribution chain?

 

Comment by Kevin on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 52PM

Apologies for the flood of posts. I was getting incorrect Captcha messages and then I noticed my posts were actually processed anyway

 

Comment by Simon Roth on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 58PM

No worries about the multiple posts. The server is getting hit pretty bad since this went viral and the php I wrote for the comment box is pretty shakey too!

Just be patient and close and reopen the page before attempting to post again.

I'll fix it when I can access the database, which is currently falling over. :p

 

Comment by Louis Gascoigne on Sat 4th February 2012 3. 58PM

See my reply on twitlonger. http://www.twitlonger.com/show/fnmopo

Short version, I don't like your list.

 

Comment by Blah on Sat 4th February 2012 4. 01PM

In some of these cases the original studio that developed the game got acquired by a larger studio. This means they were paid tons of $$$ for their franchise. They agreed to trade away their rights over these games.

If this article is somehow saying that its ok to pirate because the original developers don't get paid anymore for these games, then its one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Gamers and their fucking sense of entitlement...

 

Comment by Revkaine on Sat 4th February 2012 4. 19PM

FASA IS the creator of the mechwarrior games, great memories of the pen and paper tabletop, and went through a lot of paper themselves to get it back. Microsoft weasled there way into ownership for a few years but gave up on it after trying to turn it into an arcade style shooter IYW. I for one am glad to see the ownership back in the creators hands.

 

Comment by Ralph on Sat 4th February 2012 4. 28PM

The reason they don't get money for the games is... wait for it... THE DEVELOPMENT STUDIO IS CLOSED!!!!!!

 

Comment by Barry Kelly on Sat 4th February 2012 5. 31PM

This is a list of games produced by defunct studios. Whether a business closes or not may have something to do with piracy... and maybe it doesn't. It's a fairly large jump to make, but that's the apparently desired implication. You'll have to work a lot harder to show cause and effect.

 

Comment by Josh on Sat 4th February 2012 5. 36PM

I'm guessing that this is meant to promote independence to developers and I hope it works. You might say that these developers got paid for their work, but you might also say that they could have gotten paid a lot more. Imagine looking at this list if you were considering going into game design. Distribution companies aren't quite necessary any more, and they profit by charging as much as possible for the finished product while giving as little as possible of that money to the project's creators. So why would you go with them?

From the point of view of any independent developer at this point, the more people go independent the better, since they will also draw audiences to indy products. It's already quite possible to make a living publishing stuff independently thanks to the internet (games, books and music definitely... maybe tv/movies as well with the use of kickstarter projects or something but I'm not sure) and speaking of the writing industry (which I know most about) we're not talking about amazing pieces of literature or anything. I imagine that one day someone of JK Rowling's calibre will be savvy enough to publish on the internet, and then it's going to explode.

To some extent, looking at the independent scene and how it's growing, I have to laugh at stuff like SOPA, because they don't understand that consumers turning away from them isn't the real problem -- artists/developers turning away from them is, and bs like what this list represents as well as stuff like SOPA is precisely the kind of thing that will turn artists and developers independent.

So, you know... the future looks good to me.

 

Comment by Chess on Sat 4th February 2012 5. 39PM

Most games are created with the help of a publisher, without who's funding the developer would not have the money to create the title. In turn the publisher gets a big cut and the dev gets royalties. If the publisher doesn't make money off titles then they won't fund new ones. So how many of the titles listed do not make money for the publishers?

 

Comment by Chess on Sat 4th February 2012 5. 39PM

Most games are created with the help of a publisher, without who's funding the developer would not have the money to create the title. In turn the publisher gets a big cut and the dev gets royalties. If the publisher doesn't make money off titles then they won't fund new ones. So how many of the titles listed do not make money for the publishers?

 

Comment by Missingpoint on Sat 4th February 2012 5. 51PM

So many commenters are missing the point. Copyright exists to protect the rights of artists. Having copyright transferred multiple times (artist to developer is fine, developer to publisher is not) undermines that protection. It's not gamers feeling entitled that is the problem, it's exploitive companies feeling entitled and lobbying/falsely making DMCA claims/bringing ridiculous lawsuits/etc that is the problem

 

Comment by Rodrigo on Sat 4th February 2012 6. 41PM

So, this is an incomplete "Ok to pirate" list... don't you think?

If the creators dont receive any money, it is fair to not pay for them.

and If someday I lost rights for my games, surely I will tell people to pirate it.

 

Comment by Adam Vandenberg on Sat 4th February 2012 6. 50PM

Possibly Star Control 2 (on GoG) belongs on this list as well.

 

Comment by Bender on Sat 4th February 2012 7. 04PM

1. Did the game proceeds to-date cover the costs of production? Because everything after that is profit.
2. I'd love to be still getting paid for something 20 years after I made it...

 

Comment by reality on Sat 4th February 2012 7. 39PM

By this logic every architect & construction worker should be forever supported by the ongoing concern of the structures they designed and built 20 years ago. Think about it. People to this day are still living in the homes and working in the office buildings built and designed by engineers & laborers 20 years ago. People are still paying rent & mortgages on these buildings too. So why is it that the original designers & builders of these structures are no longer receiving any money from the continued and ongoing use of their creations? It's all about ownership. Obviously. Every single developer on this list was paid for their work as per an agreed contract or employment term.

 

Comment by Felewin on Sat 4th February 2012 8. 38PM

BATTLEZONE II IS THE BEST!!

 

Comment by durocelis on Sat 4th February 2012 9. 00PM

Earth & Beyond? Of course they're not recieving money that doesn't exist anymore. at least not commercially.

 

Comment by Jon on Sat 4th February 2012 9. 36PM

"By this logic every architect & construction worker should be forever supported by the ongoing concern of the structures they designed and built 20 years ago."

Not a great comparison. Construction workers, architects et cetera make physical products. Physical products can be literally passed from owner to owner, and the creators can make a whole other, identical version to sell to another person.

Games are simply duplicated, and like anything that is easily duplicated, the question is: who is able to duplicate them and in what circumstances?

You'd have to have a pretty perverse sense of natural justice to think that a company should be able to buy the right to endlessly duplicate and sell a product - and prevent others from doing the same - in return for an initial investment to cover the cost of labour. That's an incredibly skewed deal, and one that only seems 'normal' to us because the concept of copyright has been so ruthlessly skewed in the favour of corporations over the last half century.

 

Comment by Abraxas on Sat 4th February 2012 10. 49PM

Why didn't you add the download links?

 

Comment by Gun metal fan on Sun 5th February 2012 12. 11AM

Gun metal! Oh man I loved that years ago.

*starts searching through games*

 

Comment by Driftwood on Sun 5th February 2012 6. 59AM

How is it so many of you are so stupid and unaware of that fact? No shit it's list of defunct studios, geniuses. The point is pirate these games because they're classics (no shit the flops aren't listed dumbass, what has that got to do with anything), and nobody involved with them is going to ever see a dime from any sale from them ever again anyway.

You're worried about the publishers? First, that's weird. Second the publishers job is to publish the title, to get it put on store shelves and have ads put out for it. You think they're still doing that? Third the publishers are soul sucking scumbags who fired all the guys who worked on these, fuck them.

Why people defend these guys I'll never know. If they were worth defending they'd people who would find ways to make sure the names you see in the credits on these games were getting money from any sales from GOG or Steam.

 

Comment by Hoff on Sun 5th February 2012 9. 03AM

What about Bungie?

They don't own Halo (Microsoft/343 ), Myth I&II (take 2 interactive) and Oni (Rockstar).
And they made marathon 1-3 freeware.

So they don't have any IP's until they launch the one they are developing now.

 

Comment by mozoa on Sun 5th February 2012 12. 08PM

You know RealTime Worlds doesn't exist anymore right?

 

Comment by imright on Sun 5th February 2012 2. 12PM

Alright, pirating these games then.

 

Comment by Dave on Mon 6th February 2012 4. 28AM

Hit with a sledgehammer of nostalgia. I have to get these games out of storage....

 

Comment by Prophet on Mon 6th February 2012 4. 06PM

It should be noted that these companies no longer exists and the IP's are owned by somebody else. There's really no point in compiling such a list. Even when these companies did exists the parent companies / publishers got all the money because they either had publishing contracts or they bought the IP and the studios outright...

 

Comment by a third guy on Tue 7th February 2012 4. 42PM

Recently finished a video games development course, and this is the kindof thing that has kept me from entering the industry for a year.

Strictly going to be looking at independently funded, produced and published games - which means smaller stories and longer development times, but at least i know i'm the only one fucking me over when i hear stories about transmission games buggering off with unpaid salaries.

 

Comment by WTF on Wed 8th February 2012 12. 17AM

If a company no longer exists, it cannot take in money. What a fail of an invented dilemma. How the hell can you find piracy to be a subtle and nuanced issue, but think that defunct companies should somehow still magically get paid? Taking your main point though, that developers should always get paid for any transaction involving their game, by that line of thinking, the entire used game market should not exist. How about we just put DRM on everything? That would be great! What a bunch of stupid.

 

Comment by Alrik Fassbauer on Thu 9th February 2012 7. 01PM

S.W.I.N.E. is Freeware now.

 

Comment by Wondering on Fri 10th February 2012 4. 00AM

Who gets the money then?

With Deus Ex I'm assuming the license has been bought by Valve to sell it and they reap the benefits? Or is the publishers who get money from it now?

 

Comment by Benj on Thu 16th February 2012 12. 01AM

I don't get the pro-publisher arguments here. It is the same with the music and movie industry. Some artless vulture middle-man positions himself between you and media/distribution through whatever means he sees fit, and the artists and designers who created this work are tossed a salary or lump sum and that's all they see.

If anything, distribution and advertising should be paid back their costs, and the original creators should get the bulk of the long-term sales. After 5 years (heck, 5 months!), what good is advertising doing you? At that point it's word of mouth based on the quality of the creation, not fake CGI commercials or boobie posters.

A joint-work copyright for authors is 95 years from publication! The game industry creates similar works and gets beanpoled.

I feel like sending a check to Obsidian.

 

Comment by @ektoutie on Tue 4th September 2012 3. 32PM

I agree with the concept of this, but personally I'd be more interested in knowing about games developed by active companies that are no longer owned by them (Halo series as mentioned by Hoff, Flashpoint, Far Cry come to mind).

There's also the Atari dilemma - the modern Atari has nothing to do with the original company, but owns the rights to all their games and has assumed their mantle (presumably) because someone decided it's more marketable. Even looking at the developer/publisher names, someone buying an Old Atari game re-released by New Atari might not know they are not the same company.

Even reasonably savvy gamers generally know if studios are defunct and wouldn't expect money for their games to go to anyone other than the publisher, but there are cases where one would assume the developer gets a share but doesn't. Might it be worth specifically marking defunct studios as defunct in lists like this, to highlight the cases where people might not realise who the money goes to?

 

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