Sequels strife

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EnderSE15
Hunam adventurer
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2018 5:15 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by EnderSE15 »

Borgie wrote: Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:28 pm I have to say, I must give credit to all parties for finding a resolution. I myself am still sour towards Stardock. Paul is clearly a better person than I am, especially given the tone of their announcement. It will be some time before I can decide if I will buy any Stardock products. This resolution does make it easier to consider.
I'm still sour towards Stardock too, and am unlikely to buy any of their products any time soon - not least because Brad Wardell rather childishly blocked me on Twitter (he could have engaged, or simply ignored me, when I said I was unlikely to buy Origins because of the bullying of P&F by Stardock). That said, I sort of get the point (though I'm not sure Wardell ever explicity made it) that P&F have made practically zero progress on a sequel over 25 years, but wouldn't let anyone else use any of their IP to make anything else in the SC universe either.

Still, I'm glad it's resolved, and looking forward to GotP if P&F ever get around to making it. Meanwhile I'm rediscovering the Megamod version of SC2/UQM.
Spaceport

Re: Sequels strife

Post by Spaceport »

EnderSE15 wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:53 am That said, I sort of get the point (though I'm not sure Wardell ever explicity made it) that P&F have made practically zero progress on a sequel over 25 years, but wouldn't let anyone else use any of their IP to make anything else in the SC universe either.
They've had their hands rather tied, though. Fred and Paul spent years lobbying Activision to let them work on a sequel. Activion's refusal meant F&P had to go off on their own and create the game independently, an expensive and challenging endeavor because they need to self-fund/seek outside investors, find time to do this away from their responsibilities to their company, and get Activision's approval. F&P have a conflict of interest clause in their contracts that prevented them from even discussing the issue with Brad without first going through a process of approval with Activision. The result of that was, according to Paul, this: "we just received word from Activision. Unfortunately, our employment relationship does not permit us to participate in outside projects – most especially ones which are for-profit."

Licensing the IP in the meantime is problematic on two counts.

1. It has the potential to hurt the brand, making it even more difficult to get approval or funding to pursue their own sequel. They had already seen what happened after Star Control 3, so they have good cause to be protective of their IP.

2. Anybody purchasing a license is going to want to exclusive rights for the period in which they're developing games using that content, including Brad who, even without the license, went to great lengths to try to make sure that Fred and Paul's sequel wasn't released any time close to the release of one of his Star Control games. As a consequence, any licensing deal could forever prevent F&P from making their own game. As long as whoever they licensed the rights to makes a new game every so many years, the license wouldn't revert back to F&P, and who can predict how much success a new series would have? It could go on for 20 years or more, and the license holder could extend it simply by creating a cheap, garbage game just to maintain the rights for another X number of years.

Paul and Fred told Brad, in 2013, that they didn't want to license their IP to him because they still dreamed of finding a way to be able to make a sequel themselves, and within a few short years they finally got approval from Activision to work on it independently. Had they said yes to Brad, that approval wouldn't have meant squat as they wouldn't be entitled to use any of their IP until Brad let it revert back to them or unless they agreed to work on their game under Stardock's umbrella. While Activision may have been willing to finally grant F&P's request to work independently on a passion project of theirs, it's extremely doubtful they would have allowed them to work with a competing studio. Not that that is a great option anyway as then F&P are beholden to Brad who would want F&P to work on a game funded and released by Stardock.

Licensing deals are extremely messy and really should only be entered into if the property holder doesn't think they can do anything with it themselves or if they're willing to forgo the possibility of using it themselves to get cash now.
Elestan
Silly Supox
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:28 pm

Re: Sequels strife

Post by Elestan »

That's a very good summary; I'll just make one minor quibble/clarification:
Spaceport wrote: Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:29 am1. It has the potential to hurt the brand[...]
Technically, P&F don't have a "brand", because whatever brand identity Star Control had was controlled by the trademark, which (per their contract) was originally owned by Accolade and eventually bought by Stardock.

"The Ur-Quan Masters" open-source project has arguably developed a new (trademarked) brand identity based around essentially the same (copyrighted) content that SCII had. P&F have been granted the trademark for "The Ur-Quan Masters", which the maintainers of the open-source project have not contested.
Spaceport

Re: Sequels strife

Post by Spaceport »

Elestan wrote: Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:54 pmTechnically, P&F don't have a "brand", because whatever brand identity Star Control had was controlled by the trademark, which (per their contract) was originally owned by Accolade and eventually bought by Stardock.
Yeah, I should clarify; I meant that it would be hurtful to whatever brand they create to market their sequel. Gamers who don't know the intricacies of the franchise might still recognize elements used by a company that hypothetically licensed the rights in recent memory. Connections would also be drawn for low information consumers in news articles and on social media. If that licensed game bombed, people might assume this new game isn't worth the effort before they ever delve deep enough to learn that it's actually made by the original creators.

It's not a huge problem if F&P release their sequel as an indie that they have no intention of trying to make money off (I'm still not clear if Activision gave them permission to work on a game for profit), but in 2013 they likely continued to hope that Activision would reverse course and let them make a sequel under their umbrella. That association with a recent bomb would not have helped their case.
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