Star Control’s future may be in jeopardy because of legal squabbling

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Just a few months ago, we told you that Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III from Toys for Bob, the original creators of Star Control, were finally making a direct sequel to the beloved space exploration and adventure game.

“Well, the stars have finally aligned – we are now working on a direct sequel to Star Control II – The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursors,” they said in the announcement, noting that fans had been asking for a sequel for 25 years.

They may be waiting a little longer for sequel Ghosts Of The Precursors. In a post on their blog, Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III have claimed that there’s growing legal tension between themselves and the people who currently own the rights to the name Star Control, Stardock. Stardock picked up limited the rights to the IP in a great big Atari firesale, and they’re busy making their own, tangentially connected Star control prequel, called Star Control: Origins.

Say Ford and Reiche:

Unfortunately there appears to be a growing legal conflict between us and Stardock. We started out confused at what Stardock said and did.  We tried to be reasonable and settle the problem quietly, but now after months of debate we are flat out mad!  First, a little background information on just our side of the story:

  • In 2013, Stardock bought a limited set of Atari’s assets at a bankruptcy auction — primarily the name and trademark Star Control® and certain original aspects of Star Control III, like the space cows. It’s our opinion that Atari’s rights to publish our earlier games terminated over a decade before the auction and we contend that Stardock has zero rights to our games, including any code and other IP we created.
  • As far as we can currently tell, we have no relationship with Stardock that lets them sell the three earlier Star Control games without our permission, either bundled with their other products or separately. That permission has not been given.
  • Despite what Stardock’s Brad Wardell has recently said, including in this Ars Technica article, our games’ universe has absolutely no connection, hyper-dimensional or otherwise, with Star Control®: Origins. (Note: We really don’t like other people putting our names in their diagrams without asking us first.)

Stardock now seems to think that not only can they use our aliens, ships and narrative without our permission, but thinks that we cannot make a sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters without their permission — this is where we got really, really angry.

This all seems to be news to Stardock. In a series of posts on the Star control: Origins forum, Stardock’s Brad Wardell said that he supports Ghosts Of The Precursors, and seems to be a little confused about the situation.

“Given that we are the ones who have helped publicize Ghosts, it should be self-evident that we support their project.

It should also be pretty well known to the community that they signed a fairly onerous agreement with Accolade many years ago.

We have nothing but respect for Paul and Fred and are sorry to see them put our mutual fans at odds over their misunderstandings with their former partner.

As has been stated on numerous occasions, we will not use the Ur-Quan related IP without Paul and Fred’s approval and involvement.
We are, frankly, mystified why we’re being brought into this.”

It’s a strange situation, when you have two parties supplying disparate information, but whatever the truth of it, it means that we likely won’t be seeing the Star Control sequel for some time yet.

Last Updated: December 4, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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