Jibble

Author Topic: Abandonware  (Read 30875 times)

Duck

  • Obviously insane...
Abandonware
« on: 01 Jan 2004, 23:45 »
I'm new here, so if I've somehow violated a sacred charter by posting this here, please, for the love of god, just tell me.

In case you don't know, Abandonware is the name given to software (mostly old games) that is no longer sold or supported by its publiser. Most extend this definition so that it also has to be at least five years old. Many people decide to provide abandonware for free download, which really upsets the copyright holders.

The IDSA (or whatever it's called now) has recently been cracking down on a lot of Abandonware sites, telling them to get rid of their members' software. Most sites comply, some do not. The gaming community generally likes Abandonware, as it provides an easy way to get old games that are otherwise extremely difficult to find. In fact, some gamers are under the impression that downloading free Abandonware is legal. They're wrong.

Most of the classic adventure games are now abandonware. Quest for Glory one through three, the Police Quests, most of the Space Quests (I think all, but I could be wrong), and many other classics fall into the relam of Abandonware. It's nearly impossible to get any of these games legally without heading onto Ebay or something similar. That would be the reason for the support of gamers.

Now, the gamers like it, and the publisers don't. Well, nobody likes the publishers, either. How about the people everybody cares about - the developers?

Suprisingly, the general reaction of the developers is that they're happy someone is still playing it. The vast majority of them would have no problem with releasing their old games for free so that they could still be appreciated, if they owned the rights. Unfortuanately, they don't. The publishers do.

However, these are the same publishers that are making it so bloody hard to get the games in the first place. They say that if they re-release these games, they won't make a profit, and let's face it, they're right. But what do they do then? Do they just let the games die? What do you think?

Oh, and one more thing - how badly are you allowed to swear on these forums? The rule dealies aren't very explicit on this.

TerranRich

  • I'm Terran Riiiick!
    • I can help with characters
    • I can help with proof reading
    • I can help with story design
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with voice acting
    • I can help with web design
    • TerranRich worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #1 on: 02 Jan 2004, 00:50 »
Heh, yeah, we're very well aware of what abandonware is. :P

I feel that there should be official tiers of game status. For example, once a company goes bankrupt, by law, their games should fall within the "abandoned" category, as well as when a company decides to officially stop supporting a certain game. If a company retaliates against a person or persons for giving away their game for free on a web site (while the company seemingly stopped supporting it), then that company should have that game available for purchase to fall back within the "supported" category.

I'm a firm believer in systems, no matter what the scenario. :)
Status: Trying to come up with some ideas...

Pumaman

  • Creator of AGS
  • Administrator
  • Mittens King
  • I sense danger.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • Pumaman worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Pumaman worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #2 on: 02 Jan 2004, 01:57 »
Yeah, I think most of us are in favour of abandonware when the publisher no longer sells the game. Personally, I think that computer software should legally become freeware once it is 10 years old - the computing world moves so fast that software 10 years old is obsolete anyway.

Some game publishers have been good enough to make their old games freeware - such as Revolution recently did with Beneath a Steel Sky, but there are several others (notably Lucasarts and Sierra) who feel that they would be missing out on a potential money maker by doing so. (Of course, practically speaking they wouldn't get away with selling a collection of old DOS games into a Windows XP marketplace these days, so I'm not sure what hopes they're clinging onto).

If an abandonware case ever came to court, I think it would be very hard for the company to prove that (for example) Police Quest 1 being on the internet for free download had lost them any revenue, but of course nobody has the time or money to bring a test case to find out.

Oh, and one more thing - how badly are you allowed to swear on these forums? The rule dealies aren't very explicit on this.

There are no explicit rules, it's down to common sense. So long as you only swear when there's a good reason to, and don't go randomly chucking swearing into your posts, there shouldn't be a problem.

Re:Abandonware
« Reply #3 on: 02 Jan 2004, 03:22 »
When a company goes bankrupt its IPs usually go to the people that buy up the corpse or it is given to debtors (or is that creditors) whom are owed money by the bankrupt company. IPs almost never dissappear into thin air.
And as such, however much you may dislike it, Abandonware is rarely ever legal.

And caes can easily be made against abandonware. E.g. there was some ruckus not too long ago about Zork. Some sites were giving it away for free but so was the original IP holder. So what's the problem, you may think? Well, the IP holder wanted to generate traffic for their website (which results in higher traffic, better advertising and marketing opportunities) by having the game exclusively available from their own site. And that makes perfect sense. And they won, all other versions had to be taken down.
Now it may not be viable to distribute the old Sierra adventures at this time, but look at the resurgence of old arcade games in packages like Konami Arcade Classics and Sega Smash Pack both on the Gameboy Advance? There could be a time that these games are "classic" enogh to generate some extra revenue, so I can totally understand the IP holders wanting to keep tabs on that.

Sorry to be a spoilt sport, I want old hard-to-get games too, but as it stands Abandonware is legally iffy. And you should be aware that the IP holders can legally pull the rug from under any site offering this "service" to us gamers.

densming

  • It's always less than a week till Friday!
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with proof reading
    • I can help with scripting
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2019, for his many video tutorials, that taught a lot of people how to make games in AGS.
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #4 on: 02 Jan 2004, 04:51 »
Hmm, good discussion.  I think that people who offer illegal copies of 10+ year old games on the internet are in reality just as likely to be prosecuted by the publisher as anyone who, say, re-releases an already-existing game (like Tierra/AGDI for instance).   Actually, I would think that a re-release or an unofficial "sequel" of an existing game would be more likely to be shut down than an illegal downloadable copy of the original game, since a sequel really could hinder potential profits of a legitimate game by the publisher in the future.

Take Leisure Suit Larry 8 for example.  If Sierra actually does end up putting out this game, then they would certainly want to shut down any kind of fan-made sequel that people have or are in the process of making.

But I think that, with this exception aside, a website that offers free copies of old, no longer supported games can do no more harm than re-kindling the interest in these old games, and possibly in the publisher who put it out originally.  As we've seen with AGDI, big companies like Sierra have no interest in shutting these guys down, probably since it keeps part of their own gaming market alive.

Re:Abandonware
« Reply #5 on: 02 Jan 2004, 11:47 »
If there wasn't any abandonware, where would I get the nice old games? Some abandonware sites don't have only abandonware though... I mean, in an abandonware site I found System Shock 2 :P. It's not *that* old, is it?

Quote
Quote
Oh, and one more thing - how badly are you allowed to swear on these forums? The rule dealies aren't very explicit on this.

There are no explicit rules, it's down to common sense. So long as you only swear when there's a good reason to, and don't go randomly chucking swearing into your posts, there shouldn't be a problem.

[censored] (@$*& )@&$_ @88-2 12+@$+&@ #@ $+ &##@& #* _*#&$_[/censored] (did I push the limits?)

PS I know where to find the full cd version of S&M.... But I ain't telling you  ;D
« Last Edit: 02 Jan 2004, 11:50 by Guybrush Peepwood »

scotch

  • Mittens Viscount
    • scotch worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • scotch worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #6 on: 02 Jan 2004, 16:48 »
Sam and Max is still sold on CD (with Grim and The Dig), and updated so it works on windows XP, so it's hardly abandonware.

I don't know what legal measures should be made for abandonware.. I think Revolution have been very good with LoTT and BASS, it'd be nice if that became standard practice but publishers would have to start doing it since they usually own the games.

Privateer Puddin'

  • Mittens Viscount
  • bob
    • Privateer Puddin' worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Privateer Puddin' worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #7 on: 02 Jan 2004, 17:22 »
Sam and Max is also sold with DOTT

Matt Brown

  • the poster formally known as Panda
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #8 on: 02 Jan 2004, 17:39 »
Lucusarts is still the only comp that still sells its old games. Seirra is on a case-by-case-baisis actually. I have written them before, and have gotten premission via emails to "go ahead and download this, but dont come crying to us if it doesnt work or screws up your pc". Robin Hood and Freddy Phraskis (sp?) fall into this catagory.
Really. All you got to do it ask.
I'm curious to know ho wmuch dough LC makes off MI, sam and max, etc...enough to keep selling them I suppose
word up

Re:Abandonware
« Reply #9 on: 02 Jan 2004, 18:32 »
The few games developers that can and have released old games (Rockstar, Revolution etcetc.) really understand how much of a boost it is to their name as well as potential future projects... Codemasters said that they'd release some of their games for free a while back, but I haven't seen any...

This topic interests me because I'm currently compiling an article about free games (i.e. what should be done to abandonware games, devs giving them out for free).
James 'eVOLVE' Hamer-Morton

Duck

  • Obviously insane...
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #10 on: 02 Jan 2004, 21:19 »
I guess I didn't give my opinion on this. I think that the publishers have every right to protect their intellectual property, but on the other hand, I think that property should really belong to the developers. After all, did Sierra come up with Half-Life? No, it was Valve. Did LucasArts come up with Armed and Dangerous? Once again, it was Planet Moon.

But the fact is, the rights do belong to the publisher, and if they want to be a bunch of cranky old bastards and make it so that the only way you can get the game is second-hand from internet auction/old game sites, they have that right. It's not convenient, and it really hurts pretty much everybody, but they have the right to do that.

That said, while I wouldn't download Quest for Glory or Space Quest, I would download one of those rediculously old text-based adventures that came out before 1985 or something like that. Seriously, how much money are they going to make from that?

Keep in mind that I think that warez is crap and the people who provide it should be stoned in the street for what they're doing to the industry.

And thanks for the confirmation... this forum is going to be a lot different from others I frequent.

Re: Abandonware
« Reply #11 on: 14 Jun 2004, 23:47 »
Well Sierra isn't _that_ bad - at leat they released Caesar I for free...

Baron

  • Mittens Serf
  • AGS Baker
  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #12 on: 27 Oct 2004, 06:56 »
This thread really interested me so I tried to do some research into the legal lapse period for copyrighted software -and let me tell you, it was a lot harder than it should have been!  I mean, seriously, for something that a lot of publishers and users get really worked up about, you'd think this info would be easier to find.
     Anyway, here's the best I could do.  In the United States the closest thing to applying to adventure games seems to be the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998.  It applies to such diverse media as images (pictures/paintings) and movies, so I will assume it will also apply to adventure games.  This act seems to solidify 1976 legislation that allows a copyright to exist for the duration of the lifetime of the creator, plus fifty years.  After that the material should enter the public domain.  HOWEVER, in lieu of uncertainty about the ramifications of digital technology on copyrights, a moritorium of twenty years was placed on copyrighted material passing into the public domain (*cough* actually it was likely movie studios like Disney lobbying, as they had a lot to lose).  Thus, no new image based material will enter the public domain until at least 2018, and if the creator isn't dead yet than the clock isn't even running.
 
     ASIDE -> I wonder if publishers pay health care premiums for the artists whose material they own, just to extend the life of the copyright?

      So, legally it looks like no computer games will automatically become public domain for a very, very long time. 
      Having said that, I personally do not believe this should be the case.  The time line is far too long for an information-based culture.  I agree that intellectual property should be protected, but in the medium of computer games I think that a 10 year period from the first release date would be fair.  Where branding is relevant (for example the popular "King's Quest" brand), I think copyrights should be extended so long as a) the product is available for purchase and b) the brand is "kept alive" with new material added at least every three years.
This will encourage the constant evolution (and profit) of valuable intellectual material under the direction of the copyright owners, and leave material without perceived value to the constructive imaginations of the public.  Either way, the fans win.
     As for how to legislate these rules so that anyone without six years of law-schooling can understand them, however, is beyond me....

Bugalicious

  • Have a Merry Christmas...OR BURN IN HELL!!
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #13 on: 21 Nov 2004, 12:50 »
To start the 'clock' from the first release wouldnt be that good. Seeings many companies make updates and whatnot that can make a crap game way better, that dont come out for month or years. (such as the quake 2 patches that make multiplayer easier etc. (bad example i know)).

But still Abandonware is a good thing (in my view), because it allows you to play those really old games that we grew up on, without spending years looking around in bargain bins and ebay.

Re: Abandonware
« Reply #14 on: 22 Nov 2004, 03:05 »
To start the 'clock' from the first release wouldnt be that good.
I think copyrights should be extended so long as a) the product is available for purchase and b) the brand is "kept alive" with new material added at least every three years.

I do think it is a hard choice. Go into any toy store these days and you can buy the old arcade games on the battery operated plug straight into your TV set joysticks.

Classic games being sold still. Yes you can download most or all of those games. Remakes or the original roms on an emulator but they still make money. If someone put out a control like that with say quest for glory point and click games wouldn't you buy one? I would. But if I came across a site that had them all there for download hell I would download them too. I have downloaded movies from the net before and know how to get xvid versions of any movie I want. I still buy DVDs though.
I guess my point is you can't really set a limit on something because someone somewhere will pay to have it even if you can get it for free and then the big name company will claim the lost sales due to illegal copies.
« Last Edit: 28 Jan 2005, 16:17 by jrl2222 »

DCillusion

  • I love the power glove. It's so bad!!
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #15 on: 01 Dec 2004, 05:38 »
I knew someone who was taken to court by a Sierra rep for distributing Betrayal at Krondor.  The judge asked the Sierra lawyer how one would buy the game legally, and he had no answer.  The case was dismissed, but within a week Sierra was selling the game online - (of course, with another lawsuit threat).  The game was removed from the site.  I think this is a pretty standard argument.  Abandonware exists because companies can't claim they're losing money unless they can prove they're actually SELLING the game currently.  Most companies don't bother because they pay more in electric bills just keeping the mints running than any sales they may acrue.

P.S.   - Anyone who knows about "Chainsaw Monday" should download a Space Quest game faster than you can say Vivendi

 - Konami just released Metal Gear Solid 1 as Abandonware to boost excitement for Snake Eater.....Why don't other companies think of that!!!!

 - The ISDA only recognizes the rights of a game after its original run if the publisher is a paid member.....Crapzilla!!!!

- Warez is a tough subject given that the first program Microsoft released came from "warez" stolen from Steve Jobs, and no one seems to say anything about Windows.
« Last Edit: 02 Dec 2004, 07:39 by DCillusion »

Re: Abandonware
« Reply #16 on: 02 Dec 2004, 23:44 »
Quote
- Konami just released Metal Gear Solid 1 as Abandonware to boost excitement for Snake Eater

Solid? Are you sure? Don't you mean the old old MSX/DOS versions?
Where did you read this?

Secret Fawful

  • A Drunken Maniac Who Screams A Lot
    • Secret Fawful worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Secret Fawful worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re:Abandonware
« Reply #17 on: 03 Dec 2004, 02:45 »
PS I know where to find the full cd version of S&M.... But I ain't telling you  ;D

So do I. ;D

Devise the puzzles. Destroy the hero. Defeat the player.

Al_Ninio is an attention-seeking drama whore.

DCillusion

  • I love the power glove. It's so bad!!
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #18 on: 03 Dec 2004, 06:04 »
Home of the Underdogs has Metal Gear Solid - With a statement about Konami's release.

- Yep, just checked.  Still there. -
« Last Edit: 03 Dec 2004, 06:06 by DCillusion »

Re: Abandonware
« Reply #19 on: 03 Dec 2004, 06:15 »
Quote
With a statement about Konami's release.

I must be blind, I can't find it. Do you have a link to this statement?