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BitComposer and GSC feud over S.T.A.L.K.E.R. rights

by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, Dec 13, 2012 3:00PM PST

BitComposer Games, the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in the US and Europe, had claimed yesterday it had acquired the license to the franchise and was planning new games. That didn't sit well with developer GSC Game World, which claims it holds the trademark to the games.

In an email sent to Gamasutra, Eugene Kuchma of GSC Game World noted that the trademark filings still show GSC's CEO in possession of the license. "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," read an e-mail from Kuchma. "We have doubts regarding the mentioned product by BitComposer (the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in some territories), since the latter has significant debts in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the existing contract between our companies."

BitComposer defended its position, saying: "We hold the license for PC and video games from the Strugatsky brothers," he said. He reiterated, "The owner of the license was the Strugatsky brothers. As far as we know, GSC never had the license for S.T.A.L.K.E.R."

However, a marketing director at the Russian games company Nival may have discovered another wrinkle that complicates matters. BitComposer may have actually bought the rights to the novel universe, not the game franchise rights themselves. That would give them the ability to make something similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., even if they couldn't use the name.