A dispute between Descent developer Parallax Software and publisher Interplay results in the shooter franchise being pulled from the storefront of Good Old Games.
Online video game distributor Good Old Games has proved to be a go-to place for gamers to pick up worthwhile titles. GOG provides video game fans with a huge library of games, with a particularly strong focus on the titles of yesteryear that would otherwise be forgotten. However, the waters of classic video game rights can get very murky. This is certainly the case with the Descent series, which has just been pulled from Good Old Games.
According to GOG in a forum post, the Descent games (consisting of Descent 1 and 2, as well as Descent 3 and its Mercenary expansion pack) have been removed from the online store due to “changing hands and in-flux legal agreements.” The post also stated that GOG would be making efforts to bring the games back into the fold. However, no further information was given regarding the sudden removal of the series.
After much speculation on the forums themselves, one of the series’ original developers took center stage to add further context to the decision. Speaking on the same forum thread, Matt Toschlog & Mike Kulas from Parallax Software explained that although publisher Interplay did own the rights to sell Descent 1 and 2, the developer had not been on the receiving end of any royalty payments since 2007. As such, Parallax took action, resulting in the removal of the games from GOG, although the titles are still available on Steam at this moment in time.
Interplay was one of the most well-known publishers of the 1990s, with its name tied to the release of such beloved series as Baldur’s Gate and the Fallout franchise. Unfortunately, the publisher suffered from tremendous financial difficulties in 1998, resulting in the sell-off of a number of important properties. Fallout was bought by Bethesda Softworks, with the original games in the series making their way onto GOG under Bethesda’s ownership this year.
The success of the Descent franchise was also intrinsically tied to Interplay, with the series dropping off the radar after the initial success of the original games. Offering an interesting six-direction spin on early first-person shooter mechanics, Descent did have a gaming legacy beyond its initial release, acting as an origin for the Red Faction series. Meanwhile, the series may see a resurgence in 2016, with the expected release of the Kickstarter-backed Descent: Underground.
Disagreements such as this are unfortunately to be expected when classic games are brought back after years in stasis, particularly when publishers with as tumultuous a past as Interplay are involved. Overall, however, GOG provides a much-wanted service with general success, as seen with the addition of classic Star Wars games to the company’s catalog. Let’s hope that Descent can join some of its classic PC peers on the site once more, with Parallax receiving royalties for its work.