Another Reason for Delayed Games

Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 11:26 AM

The woes of developing games and earning a living was once shrouded in secrecy from the main stream. Now thanks to those who have the courage to bring these issues to light we can explain some of the "why's" as to why some games seem to take forever to get released. This was a message from Jonathon Boakes the creator of Dark Fall Series and the Lost Crown.


Quote:
Very disappointed in GOG, the game download website. They have been selling my Dark Fall games and refuse to acknowledge me as the creator and copyright owner.

I still own the copyright on games called 'Dark Fall', but they insist some crooks called Nordic Games own them. Nordic say they bought them from Dreamcatcher, which simply isn't true. Dreamcatcher were issued a Cease and Desist years ago! Also, Nordic and GOG have failed to pay any royalties or provide sales figures.

It's very depressing. And, if I can't get paid what I am due, for my work, there is no point making games. It's a real shame, but I'm not sure I want to go through all this every time I make a game. It is soul destroying and makes me feel like I have wasted my time and provided plenty if cash for greedy suits with no morals or honesty.

If you have bought my games from GOG (Dark Fall retails at $5.99!!!) then I am sorry to report that not a cent actually made it to me; the only person credited in making the games.


After this was shared all over FaceBook and on the GoG forums, they did indeed remove it from their catalog this morning, but sadly, it took them publicity to remove it because private discussions were ignored. So many games are not being released because of publishing issues and the lack of payments for previously released games.

How can a developer be expected to make games, especially retail boxed copies which require much more help if they do not earn any money from them?

I am very happy to see these issues being brought out in the open. I see complaints of airing the dirty laundry in public, but sadly, it seems the only way to get any action.

I hope that now, instead of chastising the developers for not releasing games on time, the public may give some pause and consider that their contract negotiations may be what's holding it back and not the development. They just want to earn a living like the rest of us.

Ana
Posted by: MaG

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 11:28 AM

When it is too good to be true, it never is.

Thanks, Ana.

luck to Jonathan. I am sorry you had to go through this also.

There are more developers that have suffered similar fates - big companies and individual striving ones.

Please look at the side of the makers once in a while and not blame them for wanting to protect their rights (DRM or otherwise).

We as gamers will suffer from loss of intellectuals that make high quality games because we blame them for trying to make money and secure their creativity.

Posted by: Marian

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 11:44 AM

This is appalling. I echo MaG's sentiments. frown

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Ana.
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 11:49 AM

It is so hard to bite my tongue and not be able to give real answers to people when they question why a long anticipated game is not yet released, especially when they are attacks that are directed towards the developer as though they are just lollygagging with their games. Obviously a developer cannot discuss these issues while the contract negotiations are underway.

The really appalling thing is when the publisher blames the developer for the delays and we know better. So sad and so frustrating.
Posted by: Mad

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 12:01 PM

And utterly disgusting !! frown
Posted by: kazzmo

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 03:46 PM

This breaks my heart and makes me sick. I love computer games, especially adventures. Jonathan Boakes makes wonderful adventure games. I have purchased every game in boxes from retail stores. I hope he got the payment due him for these purchases. MDNA is another maker of, again, wonderful adventures games and I purchase these also. There are numerous other great adventures games I have purchased and I sincerly hope that the creators of these great games got they due payment. I really appreciate these wonderful people that make these great games and the fact that I can still purchase games in boxes and DVD cases makes me doubly grateful. The cases do not have to be anything fancy, I realize those days are dissapearing, but I really like having a game disc and case and will continue to support these talented and hard working people and I am sure a geat many gamers feel the same. The dishonest companies and people hurt us all. frown
Posted by: Darleen03

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 05:21 PM

Unfortuantely...I think adventure games will soon be the adventure of the pass....

Its sad that things like this are happening...We all can't save the developers with donations as it seems that they are still getting the bad end of the stick.... frown
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 05:24 PM

Adventure games are not going anywhere, if anything Kickstarter has helped them strengthen. But not buying from sources that get money in the pockets of developers is not helping them for sure.
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 07:20 PM

DotEMU still lists Dark Fall, and says it was written by Jon Boakes in the description. Hopefully they are paying him and not Nordic Games.

I'd rather see GOG put Dark Fall back in their catalog and pay Jon Boakes the royalties instead of just removing the games.
Posted by: lanlynk

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 07:48 PM

Very upsetting news! I assumed GOG could be trusted, and maybe they can if they're making it right now. But what a loss for Boakes.

I have his first two Dark Fall games, boxed by Dreamcatcher, which I've played and loved. I also have the boxed version of Lost Crown put out by Got Game, which I haven't played yet. I hope these are the legit versions!
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 08:17 PM

Unfortunately it took publicity to get it looked into and taken off. It should have been removed immediately.

I am sure he has no problem allowing his game to be sold as long as he gets royalty. You shouldn't keep having to fight over and over the same battles.

Ana wave
Posted by: venus

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 09:03 PM

Wow, that's terrible, and definitely not deserved. sad I played and loved The Lost Crown, and I'm sorry to see that this happened to Jonathan.

Quote:
I'd rather see GOG put Dark Fall back in their catalog and pay Jon Boakes the royalties instead of just removing the games.

I really hope this is what ends up happening. He certainly deserves to get royalties from his own games! And it's really a shame it had to happen at all as GOG is such a great, DRM free resource. I'm sorry to see they were selling his games without his knowledge or benefit. I'm hoping they can get it sorted out somehow. I remember when something similar happened with the developers of Culpa Innata, which is a big reason we may never see a sequel. Hope The Last Crown doesn't suffer the same fate!
Posted by: PolloDiablo

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/02/13 11:02 PM

Based on what he wrote on Twitter, it looks like it is going to be resolved smile
https://twitter.com/jonathanboakes/status/319091346545709056
Quote:
Seems me, GOG and Nordic are all looking to get the same thing now; a good resolution. We can sort things out and all be friends again.
Posted by: Homer6

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 01:04 AM

Were the distributors really concerned with the developers, this type of situation would never occur. These distributors don't realize that they put their business at risk by the way they treat developers. As in this case, if the situation isn't resolved what's to keep other developers from dropping their support for a particular distributor? And also as with this case, even worse, the customer finds out?

As long as the ever living buck is the bottom line, these types of situations are going to continue. And unless somebody is willing, and financially able, to really slap a hand, it will continue.
Posted by: meryl

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 03:31 AM

I'm so glad this has been brought to our attention. I am disgusted to hear what has happened to probably the most creative developer around and to others.
I always buy boxed versions of games from what I hope to be reputable sources. One of the reasons I very rarely use download sites is my pathetically slow intenet connection.
I recently used GOG to download an old, presumably out of production, game but I will never use them again. Nor will I buy Nordic games nor any other company that I hear has been involved in such bad practice.
I've made it one of my policies in life to boycott any product or company that has shown to be unethical in its dealings. I can't be bothered with apologies. "Sorry" usually means "Sorry I've been found out" not "Sorry I did it and caused such harm".
If we all, always, voted with our feet we could limit such bad practice.
I hope Gameboomers will, where possible, name and shame the perpetrators of unethical practices.
Posted by: oldmariner

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 04:00 AM

I tend to agree with you Meryl. The problem is we game players rarely learn of the nasty actions until too late. I will follow your lead as much as I have supported gog I will with hold any future purchases from them until I am satisfied they did the right thing regarding Johnathan. I, don't even own any of his games but recognize his talent and support his right to receive payment for what he has earned.
Posted by: Argyle1968

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 05:32 AM

I feel really badly for Jonathan. He's set the gold standard for horror adventures and is the last person in this industry that should be the victim of something like that.

That said, I imagine a huge part of the problem has been the shift over to releasing games/software through downloads online rather than through the traditional retail boxed versions. I can see inifinite possibilities for copyright, trademark, licensing, IP theft and royalties issues where digital software is involved. It's convenient, it's cheaper, but this is precisely the kind of problem that can happen when developers turn their product over to multiple distributors/merchants that they are never dealing with face to face.

Posted by: Kaki's Sister

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 06:10 AM

Shame on GOG and all those taking advantage of the likes of Jonathon Boakes. It is so unfair.
Posted by: TechnoSpike

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 07:38 AM

Just my humble two cents on this mess: don't jump into the angry mob yelling "BURN GOG!", because if you do, then you will have to go after these ones two:

Dotemu (Dark Fall The Journal and Dark Fall Lights Out)
Amazon (Dark Fall Lights Out and Dark Fall the Journal)

In both cases, the publisher is the same as in GOG: Nordic Games.

On the other hand, you can find that the Dark Fall games are being sold in at least 3 other digital distribution sites, with Iceberg Interactive as the publisher:

Green Man Gaming
Gamersgate
GameFly

Dark fall Lights Out is also being sold here, but I couldn't figure out who the publisher is in this case.

I'm not very familiar with digital distribution sites, so there might be a lot more out there. This was just a quick search I did.

GOG is one of the best companies in listening to their client base. They care a lot for customer opinions (just an example, Cat Lady, initially rejected by GOG, eventually will be soon added to their catalog, because of fans asking them and campaigning to get the game there). I'm guessing they wouldn't willingly risk getting possible customers against them.

Not only this, but in the past, they have removes games from their catalog, in extremely fast manner (causing customer complains because of that), precisely in situations like this one: publishing rights issues (while other digital distribution sites still kept them available). So they take this kind of things pretty serious.

I'm not aware of the full details of publishing rights, laws, what Boakes might have suffered with previous struggles or what contracts might have been signed, I'm assuming this will be one of hell of a mess to resolve. Hope everything turn's out all right for all of the involved people and we see those games (and the others by Boakes) available in GOG very soon!
Posted by: rmt

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 08:43 AM

The problem is that Nordic bought the Adventure Company catalogue. It is not possible to boycott them without boycotting the whole industry of adventure games...

If I were making a game now, I would sell it myself. I think we are moving towards bypassing publishers with sites like gog, Steam, Windows store, Apple store, etc. I hope.

Publishers used to provide the financing, but now they appear only interested in selling a finished product they have not financed, and collecting the profits. And they don't even pay royalties... Is this a new form of capitalism?
Posted by: anne2

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 09:14 AM

You need to get your facts in order before blaming anyone, especially GOG.
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 09:15 AM

The biggest problem is with Dreamcatcher, which made a practice of not paying their developers. Detalion, Galilea, Microids Canada, and probably also Kheops, were not paid residuals from sales as contracted and are now out of business. Frogwares was also not paid, and thehood from Frogwares has posted as much here at Gameboomers and other adventure game forums. I don't doubt Jon Boakes wasn't paid either -- and responded with a "Cease and Desist" order claiming Dreamcatcher could no longer publish the game since they'd broken contract by not paying. But that wasn't the end of it because Dreamcatcher sold the rights to Nordic.

I have no proof that Nordic knew there was any dispute about any games in the catalog they'd bought from Dreamcatcher until Jon Boakes wrote them about it. And GOG as well as Amazon and DotEMU probably thought that Nordic owned the rights.

I don't do Facebook, but Barry_Woodward in the ***Dark Fall Creator Dissapointed*** thread over in the GOG forum quoted from Jon Boakes' facebook page
Quote:
"Things are moving on, like I said. I understand GOG's stance, and Nordic. But we are moving on, like I said. It will be great to have all parties happy again. The Curse Of Dreamcatcher - A Developers Tail is drawing to a close. Basically, everyone involved had conflicting info. Soon to be made good again." - Jonathan Boakes

So it sounds like they're working it out. It would be premature to boycott these companies (and possibly Jon Boakes himself) because of something Dreamcatcher did.

The misspelling of the word "Disappointed" in "Dark Fall Creator Disappointed" is how the thread name is spelled over there.
Posted by: metamorphium

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 10:11 AM

It seems (from what appeared on my facebook wall) that this time it's not the case of "evil publisher" fighting developers but rather a case of bad communication coupled with Dreamcatcher demise and their last blow(and yes Dreamcatcher / Dreamcrusher was evil).

However the key point stays. If I like certain developer, I buy the game from them directly even if it could mean a little discomfort for me. This way the developer gets significantly more money and usually provides me with a DRM free version and better support, too. wave
Posted by: anne2

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 10:13 AM

Thanks Jenny100
A much clearer view of things.
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 11:12 AM

Originally Posted By: anne2
You need to get your facts in order before blaming anyone, especially GOG.


Are you referring to me? I posted facts.

Originally Posted By: Argyle1968


That said, I imagine a huge part of the problem has been the shift over to releasing games/software through downloads online rather than through the traditional retail boxed versions.


This was going on long before downloads. There were many popular developers that did not receive a cent on retail boxes sold. The only difference is that we weren't allowed to publicly discuss it.

And, as a sidenote, I never requested anyone to boycott GoG, I am merely posting what was transpiring.




Posted by: anne2

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 11:42 AM

Nooo! not you Ana, just a general response to some of the replies.
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 11:46 AM

Thanks Anne, I had no idea who you were referring to and I was confused why you would be directing it to me.

Ana wave
Posted by: anne2

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 11:51 AM

Really sorry about that Ana, you are one of the special people here. slapforehead wave
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 11:55 AM

Thanks Anne hearts
Posted by: meryl

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 01:22 PM

I never knew you could buy games direct from the developer. I'd be happy to do this even at a higher cost.
Will Jonathan be selling his next game direct?
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 01:26 PM

frogwares, MDNA are two developers I can think of offhand that sells games direct.

Icenerg Interactive is the publisher for The Last Crown so not sure if Jonathon will also be able to sell direct.

Ana wave
Posted by: lanlynk

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 02:46 PM

So now I'm really confused! I double checked on my Boakes games, two of which I bought and played years ago.

Dark Fall actually says Adventure Company on the jewel case. Not sure where I bought it. But I bought Dark Fall 2 from Amazon. It has Adventure Company on the box, but is listed as sold by Dreamcatcher. A few years later, I bought Lost Crown from Amazon, listed by Got Game, which is on the box.

I also see Amazon sells versions of these games by Nordic, Iceberg, and "Unknown."

And even though my internet bandwidth is not that fast, I prefer downloads now--because I don't have to worry about storage or handling of discs.

But how on earth are consumers to know the legit game to buy? I prefer to have as few purchasing accts as possible online. I don't want to buy things from a lot of different web sites. I've always considered Amazon (and GOG) reputable sites.

So are these types of problems still big issues?
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 02:56 PM

At the time of release these publishers had the rights to sell the game but they never paid the developer. They kept all the money for themselves. Unfortunately, not even the developer knows at the time that he won't be paid.

Ana wave
Posted by: lanlynk

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 03:06 PM

I knew that game development, like so many creative arenas, was a struggling field. But I never realized developers were being cheated!
Posted by: Homer6

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 05:19 PM

Originally Posted By: lanlynk
But how on earth are consumers to know the legit game to buy? I prefer to have as few purchasing accts as possible online. I don't want to buy things from a lot of different web sites. I've always considered Amazon (and GOG) reputable sites.

So are these types of problems still big issues?


That is the 64 dollar question, lanlynk, and unless there is public information available of a dispute between developer and distributor you won't know. These type problems are usually kept from the public because they are considered bad publicity, and/or may have litigation pending, which keeps both parties from making any comments.

If questions arise, about the only way to ensure who developed what game is to visit game review sites, computer software review sites, etc. to see if a review of the game exists. And if there are/were advanced announcements about said game.
Posted by: oldmariner

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 05:20 PM

For the record I never said boycott gog. What I said was I am waiting to see if gog does the right thing. The issue was brought to their attention, they removed the game. The question becomes will gog now offer it stating they will pay Johnathan? I do not doubt for a minute gog believed Nordic owned the rights. I suspect Nordic believed they owned the rights. As I said I want to see gog do the right thing before passing judgment. The ball is in their court.
Posted by: Karsten

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 05:21 PM

As I see it, this is not the fault of GOG or Nordic Games. I woulnd't hesitate to buy from GOG or games being published by Nordic Games.

As I see it, as others have pointed out as well: GOG made a deal with Nordic Games for the back cataloque(sp?) of the Dreamcatcher games. Dreamcatcher was owned by the adventure game company (or was it the other way round?) Nevertheless, Dreamcatcher and the adventure game company probably struggled financially for years before they closed their doors.

In the confusion, my best guess is that communications were not clear, Boakes Cease and Desist Letter might not even have gotten through the to correct people - or maybe no people at all?

Anyway, it seems from Boakes' communication on Twitter that all is going to to bel well again...

eta:

Jonathan Boakes is the developer of Dark Fall as well as the copyright holder to the Dark Fall games. In the game world, this is very verty unusual. Normally, a publisher will pay a developer say 2 million US dollars to make a game and 2 million US dollars when the game is finished. the numbers are someone I've made up to clarify my point which is this:

When the game is finished, the publisher, I'd guess, owns the game, and the copyright to the game. As an example of this, EA bough the Pandemic and Bioware way back in 2007-2008; EA then acquired/got all the copyrighted Bioware and Pandemic materials with the exception of, I think, the baldur's gate games? As another example, Obsidian developed Fallout: New Vegas for Bethesda, but it is Bethesda which have the copyright for the Fallout: New Vegas game. (since the now own the Fallout franchise....)

Also this:
In my mind, GOG will do the correct and right ting. Pay Jonathan Boakes the money that is owed to him, from now on......and maybe also from way back when. GOG does know that what they have going for them is their credibility....if they lose this - or even a tiny fraction of their ethos/credibility, all may or could be lost for GOG.com....

Posted by: lanlynk

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 05:33 PM

Good suggestions, Homer6. My eyes have been opened, and I'll pay more attention to game news now. Very grateful for the GameBoomers community!
Posted by: Mad

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/03/13 11:41 PM

The way I can buy games from MDNA is just perfect for me !! bravo

Mikael's "no frills" arrangement gives me just what I want : A good game, on a disk, at a sensible price (even with shipping to the UK) and no restrictions yes

And all in the happy knowledge that the developer gets a fair reward for his work thumbsup
Posted by: Mikael

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/04/13 11:06 PM

During the years I’ve been making games I’ve gotten acquainted with several other game developers, and believe me, there are very few of them that don’t have a story like this to tell. I for one have several.

It’s especially depressing that it happens to Dark Fall, since I consider it the most groundbreaking independent adventure game ever. It was the game that showed us that one person alone could make a fully fledged game that was even better (actually a whole lot better) than most other games with dozens of names rolling in the closing credits.

I don't think that GOG Games are to be blamed entirely for this though. However, that they didn’t remove the game from their catalog until Jonathan went public with the issue reflects very badly on them. It proves that they care much more about their image than developers that hold the rights to their own games get their rightful share.

Guess why we’re only selling our latest game directly from our site!
Posted by: Homer6

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/05/13 12:45 AM

Mikael, isn't there something within the law(s) that can compel distributors to honor their contractual payment agreements?
Posted by: Mikael

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/05/13 07:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Homer6
Mikael, isn't there something within the law(s) that can compel distributors to honor their contractual payment agreements?


Yes, there is. But some developers feel uncomfortable about hiring legal representation, since it can be very expensive if you lose. Some might not afford it at all. Besides, if the company that owes you money is in another country (which is often the case) these matters tend to get very complicated and time consuming.
Posted by: Homer6

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/06/13 12:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Mikael
Originally Posted By: Homer6
Mikael, isn't there something within the law(s) that can compel distributors to honor their contractual payment agreements?


Yes, there is. But some developers feel uncomfortable about hiring legal representation, since it can be very expensive if you lose. Some might not afford it at all. Besides, if the company that owes you money is in another country (which is often the case) these matters tend to get very complicated and time consuming.


I had a feeling this might be the case.
Posted by: lexxy

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/07/13 08:42 AM

This discussion/disclosure has really opened my eyes and at the same time saddens me than Jonathan has had to go through such unfairness. I am holding the last retail copy of The Lost Crown and inside it states this A Ghost-Hunting Adventure By Jonathan Boakes distributed by GotGame Entertainment . Since he is acknowledged here can I assume he was paid the royalties he is due?
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/07/13 10:52 AM

GotGame is no longer in business in part because of all the lawsuits regarding lack of payments. If I recall correctly they won their rights back in this case but don't recall if they received the money.
Posted by: Karsten

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/07/13 05:14 PM

I was wondering if it maybe is the same story for Matt Clark and Barrow Hill; that Matt Clark was not paid any royalties for his 2006 game, Barrow Hill?

I mean since we don't seem to a new game from him? Hard to tell, I'd guess, but it could be a fairly valid guess, I't think.
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/07/13 07:22 PM

Matt Clark will be releasing Bracken Tor hopefully this year.

Ana wave
Posted by: GreyFuss

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/07/13 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: BrownEyedTigre
Matt Clark will be releasing Bracken Tor hopefully this year.

Echo...Echo....Echo...
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Another Reason for Delayed Games - 04/07/13 08:59 PM

Please keep in mind that no one here will post any info that has not been publicly available or without permission from the parties to do so. The purpose of the thread is to show that things are not always as they seem. To blame a developer for delays and some of the not so kind postings about it are misguided.