Star Control: Origins Pulled From Steam And GOG Due To Ongoing Legal Battle

Star Control: Origins Pulled From Steam And GOG Due To Ongoing Legal Battle

PC stores Steam and GOG took down the video game Star Control: Origins on December 31 following DMCA takedown notices issued by two designers of the original Star Control games, Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III. Star Control: Origins, a spiritual successor to the old games, is a strategy game about exploring space in an alternate galaxy.

It’s the latest move in a long-running dispute over the rights to Star Control, a sci-fi series that first started in 1990 and has been mostly dormant since the 90s. On one side of the legal battle is Stardock, the game studio that developed and published Star Control: Origins in September of 2018.

On the other side are Ford and Reiche, who maintain that they own the copyright to Star Control because they developed the games and only licensed them to the original publisher, Accolade, and in 2017 announced their own sequel, Ghosts of the Precursors. Stardock disputes this, saying it owns the rights to the series after purchasing the copyright and publishing rights from Atari in 2013.

As for Star Control: Origins, Stardock argued in a statement published on the game’s Steam page on Monday that the new work is entirely original and Ford and Reiche’s copyright claims don’t apply.

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell wrote that while Origins plays like a classic Star Control game, the universe it takes place in is completely new. “We spent 5 years working on it making it our own game,” Wardell wrote, citing a few instances in which Stardock changed names and a ship design in Origins at Ford and Reiche’s request to make them more different from previous games.

Prior to releasing the game, Stardock requested the U.S. District Court of Northern California prevent Ford and Reiche from issuing DMCA requests until the ongoing litigation over who owned which parts of Star Control was resolved. On December 27, the court ruled against Stardock, claiming it should have waited to release Origins until after the lawsuits were settled if it was afraid of getting hit with DMCA takedown notices.

Now, Star Control: Origins is no longer available. While people who already bought and downloaded the game can still play it, there’s no indication of when it will be back up for sale.

Thanks to reader Priyesh for the tip!


    • And? There seems to a decent case against Stardock and Brad keeps shooting his mouth off about it.

    • Yeah, but what if Atari got it wrong?

      Paul and Fred say that publishing rights to “Star Control” reverted to them, before the sale to Stardock. I think they both agree that Stardock own the trademark for “Star Control”, though. So we may have a weird situation here where publishing rights and trademark have different owners.

      In any case, I hope the two eventually work it out. All this fighting is doing damage to the “Star Control” brand, and I do like the franchise.

      • The publishing rights would be related to the existing games though, and not necessarily linked to the trademark ownership.

        With Ford and Reiche using the DMCA, they are clearly saying they have a copyright interest in the new “Star Control: Origins” game. Presumably that means they’re disputing Stardock’s claim that the new game takes place in an entirely new universe: instead contending that it has drawn elements from the original games.

    • Origins is actually quite a decent game, I’ve played for about 40 hours so far. My only gripe so far is the ship battles can be quite unbalanced but it mostly works in your favour.

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