bitComposer (Maybe) Acquires S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Franchise

bitComposer (Maybe) Acquires S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Franchise

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German publisher bitComposer Entertainment says it has acquired the rights to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. videogame franchise, but others aren't so sure.

Those who like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. like it a lot, and for them it was sad news indeed when S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 appeared to go down for the count at the end of 2011. Numerous rumors have since suggested that the game might still be alive, somewhere and somehow, and in July came reports that Bethesda, the house of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, had stepped in to assume control. Most of the original GSC Game World team, meanwhile, has gone off to work on Survarium, a free-to-play online shooter with a powerful S.T.A.L.K.E.R. vibe.

And now bitComposer has come along to throw things into even greater confusion. "bitComposer Entertainment AG has acquired the exclusive worldwide rights for future video game adaptations of the acclaimed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand from Boris Natanovich Strugatsky," the company announced today. "This is the second strong international license that the Eschborn-based company has acquired within the space of a few years, and this move ensures that the successful series will continue."

That's great news, but there's a problem. Strugatsky, who died on November 19 at the age of 79, was the author of, among other works, Roadside Picnic, the 1977 sci-fi novel upon which the game is loosely based. And according to Sergey Galyonkin, the EMEA Marketing Director at Nival, Strugatsky held the rights to the Roadside Picnic "Stalker" but not the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. videogame IP, and that's what bitComposer has acquired.

Maybe it's a mistranslation, maybe it's a misunderstanding or maybe somebody is just completely wrong about something. It's even possible that we could eventually end up with two separate franchises, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Stalker, perhaps a bit like the situation that turned F.E.A.R. 2 into such a mess. BitComposer was unequivocal about its claim to ownership of the videogame rights in a followup email, although it did shed a little light on where the confusion may come from.

"The Stalker license has been acquired by bitComposer from Mr. Boris Strugatsky. The license we´ve acquired is only for use in PC and videogames. So from the legal side we (bitComposer) are the license holder of Stalker. This has nothing to do with Roadside Picnic," a rep said. "However, we do not own the right of the pictured logo of Stalker. The right for this special graphic belongs to other right owners."

The good news is that there's enough publisher-level interest in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise to keep it kicking. The bad news is that if this descends into a concerted battle over the rights to the IP, it could be a long time before anyone is actually able to make a new game. Either way, we'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: GSC Game World, the company that developed the first three S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, has told me that it, and not bitComposer, are "the sole owners of all the intellectual property rights to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game series and the brand overall, including all the trademarks, the game universe, the technology etc."

"From time to time news on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand purchase by this or that company appear over the internet. We relate such a keen interest in the brand to its exceptional popularity," the company said in a statement. "Even the purchase of rights to create a Roadside Picnic¯ book-based game by a small publisher is presented as the continuation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise. We have doubts regarding the mentioned product by bitComposer (the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat on some territories), since the latter has significant debts in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the existing contract between our companies."

It would seem that a dispute is brewing.

Source: bitComposer Entertainment, Galyonkin.com

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Title: YES!!! Possible new S.T.A.L.K.E.R game on the horizon!

Potential IP mess details: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BigNo

I thought this was somewhat cleared up, they acquired the rights to STALKER, as in how the *movie* was named (without all the dots): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079944/ with story/screenplay written by Arkadiy Strugatskiy and Boris Strugatskiy, but they don't have the rights to the games or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. which was apparently used in the first place to circumvent IP issues.

There is another Stalker game, actually. Mobygames recently deleted their entry on it, but I was able to find it on my Game Empire Volume 2 CD. According to the License.doc I can share it so long as-

1. You clearly market it as shareware.
You explain the shareware concept ("try before you buy" software).
2. You credit MM Software Productions as the publisher of this
software.
3. You sell this program for less than $9.
4. You do not modify or delete any files.
5. Your right does not include any right to sublicense this game.

So with that done: http://www.mediafire.com/?w9wah71rivlmvix

Good luck getting it to run, though. Even on my Windows 3.1 Dosbox setup, it's way too fast to play.

What's super interesting is that even though it is closer to the novel (you're going after a Golden Sphere), it still uses radiation and mutants. Its like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. devs knew of this one and thought to themselves, "What if this was an FPS?"

... someone should totally ask them.

Dexter111:
I thought this was somewhat cleared up, they acquired the rights to STALKER, as in how the *movie* was named (without all the dots): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079944/ with story/screenplay written by Arkadiy Strugatskiy and Boris Strugatskiy, but they don't have the rights to the games or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. which was apparently used in the first place to circumvent IP issues.

Based on what's coming out of bitComposer, I don't think it's quite at "cleared up" yet. My best interpretation at this point is that bitComposer has the rights to the IP but not the title, or perhaps the specific logo. It has echoes of the System Shock 2 mess, in which some rights are held by some entities but the ownership status means that nobody can make a full-on SS3. I hope STALKER doesn't end up in the same boat.

i have a feeling this is going to end up in a nasty battle in the courts

As far as i can tell off GCS Game World Forums

In view of the rumors appearing in press, we find it necessary to inform that GSC Game World and Sergey Grigorovich remain to be the sole owners of all the intellectual property rights to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game series and the brand overall, including all the trademarks, the game universe, the technology etc. This can be easily verified with the trademark services online.

From time to time news on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand purchase by this or that company appear over the Internet. We relate such a keen interest in the brand to its exceptional popularity. Even the purchase of rights to create a "Roadside picnic" book-based game by a small publisher is presented as the continuation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise. We have doubts regarding the mentioned product by bitComposer (the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat on some territories), since the latter has significant debts in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the existing contract between our companies.

off https://www.facebook.com/officialstalker/posts/563495603676359

Sergey Galyonkin got in touch with Grigorovich and found that:

1. He did not negotiate with bitComposer about giving them the rights to the trade mark S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and still keeps them for both USA and Europe.
2. bitComposer distributed Call of Pripyat and owes GSC 8 months' royalties.

http://www.gsc-game.com/index.php?t=community&s=forums&s_game_type=xr3&thm_page=1&thm_id=5682&sec_id=16
so its all nuts atm

OK, so they can make a game called STALKER that has similar content to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. All I know is I want more STALKER. Loved all the games, even the bad ones.

Hopefully we will see SOMETHING done with the property soon.

I miss S.T.A.L.K.E.R

 

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