Stardock response to Paul and Fred [UPDATE]
UPDATE: Make sure you read the official statement from Stardock regarding newer events.
Re: November's blog post by Paul and Fred claiming Stardock's objection to their new game being promoted as a "true sequel" constitutes Stardock preventing them from doing a new game.
We are disappointed that Paul and Fred, two people we have a great deal of respect and admiration for, have chosen to imply that we are somehow preventing them from working on their new game.
Stardock has been nothing but supportive of their new project and wish them the best. I personally made the post here on StarControl.com in support of it.
With regards to their contentions:
First, as many people know, the classic Star Control games have been available for sale long before Stardock acquired the rights from Atari four years ago. For the entirety of the time we have held the rights, they have been getting paid for those sales. If they had an objection to the games being sold this is something that could and should have been addressed before we were ever involved.
Second, we have stated, repeatedly and consistently for over four years that we are not using any of the aliens from the classic series. As we have stated, our position is that, to the best of our knowledge, the classic alien IP is owned by them.
We have also discussed, at length, why it wasn't commercially viable for us to attempt to continue or retell the Ur-Quan story. 25 years is just too long of a gap. This is one of the reasons why we have been so excited about Paul and Fred's project. Their game frees us to introduce new characters and a new story into the new Star Control while allowing fans of the classic series a way to continue the classic story. This strikes us as a win-win situation.
Lastly, when we acquired Star Control from Atari in 2013, many assets were transferred to us including the various publishing agreements to the Star Control franchise. The short version is that the classic IP is messy. We understand that this makes them "really really angry" but we weren't a party to that agreement. All we can do is try to put something together that releases them from the restrictions placed on their IP that they agreed to and transfer any and all rights and responsibilities to them. We want them to make Ghosts but we don't want any liability or association with it.
Given the disturbing and unanticipated post by Paul and Fred, we are persuaded more than ever that a clear and irrefutable document that makes it clear that we are not associated or involved with their new game is needed.
We have nothing but respect and admiration for Paul and Fred and wish them well in their new project.
Paul and Fred continue to make unsubstantiated claims regarding the DOS-based Star Control games. If they have any documentation to provide evidence to their assertions, we have yet to see them.
Stardock, by contrast, possesses a perpetual, exclusive, worldwide licensing and sales agreement that was explicitly transferred to us by Atari who in turn acquired it from Accolade that has Paul Reiche's signature along with a signed distribution agreement between Atari and GOG for the DOS Accolade Star Control games.
The tone of their blog posts is similar to the kind of correspondence they had with us since the announcement of their Ur-Quan Masters successor, vague, full of demands and without any documentation.
With all due respect to Paul and Fred, they really should talk to competent legal counsel instead of making blog posts.
Dealing with the sales and distribution of 20+ year old DOS games is an unusual way to spend a Tuesday afternoon. Nevertheless...
Atari had transferred to Stardock a signed agreement between Atari's President and GOG that we assumed was the agreement. Paul and Fred claimed they were the ones who had set up the agreement and upon verification with GOG, we instructed them to terminate this agreement which they have which we appreciate.
The games are now correctly transferred to Stardock and we will continue to ensue that Fred and Paul receive royalty payments for the games per the publishing agreement. We apologize if anyone was inconvenienced.
Old IP can be messy to deal with. The best way to deal with that is to have the parties talk to each other (as opposed to making public Internet posts) and work something out. We remain committed to dealing with this situation with as much restraint and gentleness as possible.
Added link to https://www.starcontrol.com/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred to address Paul and Fred's latest complaints.
At this stage, the parties are seeking to resolve their disagreements in court. Stardock wishes this could have been resolved otherwise.
For the record, if Paul and Fred had simply announced their game as a sequel to Ur-Quan Masters and requested Stardock to remove the DOS games from distribution, Stardock would have complied out of respect, even if we would have been unhappy that they chose now, after 25 years, to jump back in the middle of Stardock's efforts to bring Star Control back.
However, by promoting their new game as a "direct-sequel" to Star Control (and in other places as the "true" sequel) while using the Star Control box art (which is owned by Stardock) a great deal of consumer confusion has been created requiring Stardock to protect its IP rights.