Activision Comes To Its Senses; Allows King's Quest Fan Game To Live On (Again)

from the permission-culture dept

Nearly five years ago, we wrote about how some fans of the video game King's Quest, of which there hadn't been an official release in years, had decided to put together a fan-created version. Vivendi, who owned the rights to the game, initially sent in the lawyers with a cease-and-desist, but later backed down, and gave the go ahead, so long as the name of the game was The Silver Lining, rather than King's Quest IX. But, of course, you may recall that earlier this year, Activision, who had merged with Vivendi, suddenly decided that the old permission no longer applied, and demanded that all work on the game cease and go away.

Thankfully, Nick Coghlan alerts us that, after many months, this story actually is turning into a repeat of the 2005 story, as Activision has come to its senses and is letting the game live on. Apparently the negative publicity over Activision's previous position convinced the company that it was making a mistake, and it rescinded the cease-and-desist.

While this story appears to have a happy ending where common sense prevails over ridiculous legal threats, the whole situation once again highlights the problems of permission-culture. These fans were trying to build something that celebrated a game that hasn't been commercially released in ages. And yet, twice now, they've had to deal with threats to be shut down, with the second time coming after they'd already secured "permission." This is not how culture is supposed to work.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. icon
    Sarah Black (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 4:42am

    Was it just "permission" that Activision gave to the King's Quest fans or did they give something else? Like attention and renewed interest...

    Interest in a fan-created version could also possibly mean interest in the entire King's Quest saga. /looking forward

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    isabel (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 5:05am

    I would be curious

    to know the situation between George Lucas and the many fan created books / programmes. I assume he gets royalties from them and has contracts signed up?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    If you really want to see what happened when you have to ask permission...

    what happens when the game you want to make is blocked, but the reference is 10+ years old

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    reboog711 (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 5:33am

    The fact that there is / was no commercial release is not completely accurate. A lot of the Sierra "quest" games were released as low cost collections: s&qid=1277814345&sr=8-1

    Release Date according to the page is September 06. It came to Steam in 09. There haven't been any new "Quest" games in a long, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    The new dark ages are upon us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 29th, 2010 @ 5:42am

    Until The Next Merger With Somebody Else ...

    ... when the whole sorry story will play out again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 6:04am

    Correlation w/Music...

    It's funny. I decided yesterday, for some unknown reason, to run a Google search for "open source PC games". One of the returns was this wikipedia article:

    Now, some of these games were commercial releases that have been freed up, and some of them are even old Rougelike text style adventure games, but many of them aren't. Some of them look extremely well done and polished (we'll find out when I play a few). The point is that, again, people will create for creation's sake. To try and stifle that as Activision did, instead of embracing it, reminds me of how the music and movie industries try to slap down fan made releases that build upon THEIR copyrighted works.

    It's just silly. Copyright being used to stifle creation will lead to more open source offerings, more CC style releases, and more dilution in these markets where the only one with anything to lose is those relying on antiquated protectionism....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    Re: Correlation w/Music...

    Lots of open source games exist. Just type search for games on an ubuntu installation and you will find more open games than you'd ever be able to play. And the list is growing.

    And yet these companies haven't discovered that obscurity is a larger enemy than piracy.

    When I used to pirate music, I bought lots of music. Then I realized the legal situation and quit pirating. But ironically, I care less about music and buy less.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Correlation w/Music...

    Same here. I was a parrot on my shoulder pirate when I was in high school....and I had a huge CD collection. The whole Napster thing scared me I strictly listen to sports radio.

    ....I've never been happier!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Ian Channing (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Correlation w/Music...

    Very true, now I think back, the more I bought the more I copied other stuff as well. I've no idea which way round the correlation goes, but I do think that there is a genuine correlation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Jun 29th, 2010 @ 7:07am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Jay (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 7:39am


    Howdy folks. Forgot to sign in...

    If we're talking about games, I highly doubt that people will say that Crimson Echoes competed with Square for market space. The game was shut down right as release was about to happen for it (1 month left before it was completed)

    Let's think about this...

    Three guys, 5+ years and then Square comes to warn them of $150,000 in damages for a game that was fan made because of a "ROM hack". Here's what's so unfortunate...

    The game looked to be a great addition. It had a great story, great plotting, and linked two of their games.

    As it stands, it's still a great fanfiction. How this is any different from a commercial release is beyond me. Regardless, it disappoints me greatly that so much effort is wasted for short term profit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Danny, Jun 29th, 2010 @ 8:20am

    Re: Me

    I had forgotten about this project. Just read the plot and I have to say I think I would have enjoyed playing it.

    I do find it odd that Square struck at just before the release (the site says the game was 98% complete).

    At first I thought Square came down on them because they were about to start working on a new CT title themselves (kinda like how that group that was making a fanmade Halo RTS got shut down and barely a month later Halo Wars was announced). But it looks like more of the same jerkiness. All Square had to do was ask that they clearly state that Crimson Echoes was not an official Square product and call it a day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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