Why do the likes of CodeMasters and others, deny their games to the rest of us ?

edited January 2009 in Games
Hi, first post :)

What I'd like to know (and probably many others), is why do people like CodeMasters (among others), refuse to release their back catalogue.

What could possibly be the reason for not allowing old speccy games to be re-lived again ?

Other manufacturers (if that's the right word to use) are more than happy for us to play games of old, so how come CM don't ?

Are they being tight ars*s ? - sad, if they are. I mean, do they actually think people are going to pay about a tenner for their old games?

I'm sure they've lost a lot of respect from Speccy fans for the 'non-allowment' of their games.

:(
Post edited by Arkanoid on
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Comments

  • edited December 2008
    Do a few forum searches using words like "Codemasters", "denied", "Paul McKenna" & "Activision" and all will be revealed.

    That'll explain more than one post ever could.
    I wanna tell you a story 'bout a woman I know...
  • edited December 2008
    karingal wrote: »
    Do a few forum searches using words like "Codemasters", "denied", "Paul McKenna" & "Activision" and all will be revealed.

    That'll explain more than one post ever could.

    Don't forget "Ultimate" while you're at it.

    Seriously, anyone who allows us the free use and distribution of their software is granting us a privilege; it's not like we would automatically gain the right until a very long time in the future.
  • edited December 2008
    Arkanoid wrote: »
    Other manufacturers (if that's the right word to use) are more than happy for us to play games of old, so how come CM don't ?

    There's a certain immeasurable level of risk when it comes to evaluating the legal ramifications of officially allowing free distribution of games, and clearing the legal minefield to make sure everyone involved is happy takes too much time and money - the original paperwork is around 25 years old now (if it even existed in the first place) and is probably lost or destroyed.

    So, they have to make a call based on an unknown amount of risk - Codemasters and the rest decided to make the conservative decision of denying free distribution by those who feel a moral requirement to ask their opinion. Either decision is fine by me - its their necks on the line should someone with a right suddenly pop up saying "hang on a moment..."
  • edited December 2008
    I always think it's better to be thankful for what we have got - a huge selection of titles which have been cleared for distribution, and an active & vibrant community which actively tries to preserve and enhance the scene. :smile:
  • edited December 2008
    NickH wrote: »
    Either decision is fine by me - its their necks on the line should someone with a right suddenly pop up saying "hang on a moment..."

    It's quite an interesting point. Never thought of it in that angle. Nicely done!

    ...

    However the Codies are more than just a distribution company. They are the authors of most of their own games. I'm tempted to believe that on their particular case, wouldn't hurt to give it another try (unless this was done recently). Would anyone agree that sometimes it pays to be a little pain? Or is this not the case with these type of things?

    In any case, life's been good for the Warwickshire boys with new partnerships this year and a host of planned games. Who knows, they might open the treasure chest this time. At least for a few of their titles.

    I'll have to say however, that on my particular case, I wasn't really much of a fan. I only really enjoyed a handful of their games. And none of them had "Dizzy" on the name.
  • edited December 2008
    wouldn't hurt to give it another try

    I was thinking the same. I't almost 10 years since they denied their games:
    From: Anthony Price
    To: Martijn van der Heide
    Subject: RE: Sinclair ZX Spectrum - copyrights and distribution
    Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 11:09:38 +0100


    Dear Martijn

    While we appreciate your request and attempts to set up a legally correct
    site, we cannot grant you the licence you request

    Maybe we could ask them again on 10th anniversary of denial. We have nothing to lose.
  • edited December 2008
    Arkanoid wrote: »
    I'm sure they've lost a lot of respect from Speccy fans for the 'non-allowment' of their games.

    I have a suspicion that they're not losing much sleep at night worrying what ZX Spectrum fans think about them.
  • edited December 2008
    So we can only do it illegally...
  • edited December 2008
    So we can only do it illegally...

    That depends on each person's conscience.
  • edited December 2008
    Also it depends on laws in the country, where this person lives.
  • edited December 2008
    ZnorXman wrote: »
    That depends on each person's conscience.
    I haven't got one of those...
    I wanna tell you a story 'bout a woman I know...
  • edited December 2008
    karingal wrote: »
    ZnorXman wrote: »
    That depends on each person's conscience.
    I haven't got one of those...

    Do I hear a new SPUD-feature being implemented :grin:
  • edited December 2008
    ZnorXman wrote: »
    Do I hear a new SPUD-feature being implemented :grin:
    No, I had it surgically removed so I could play JetPac...
    I wanna tell you a story 'bout a woman I know...
  • edited December 2008
    karingal wrote: »
    No, I had it surgically removed so I could play JetPac...

    Ah, yes ... JetPac can be sooo resource-heavy on the conscience :grin:
  • edited December 2008
    rahtgaz wrote: »
    It's quite an interesting point. Never thought of it in that angle. Nicely done!

    ...

    However the Codies are more than just a distribution company. They are the authors of most of their own games. I'm tempted to believe that on their particular case, wouldn't hurt to give it another try (unless this was done recently). Would anyone agree that sometimes it pays to be a little pain? Or is this not the case with these type of things?

    In any case, life's been good for the Warwickshire boys with new partnerships this year and a host of planned games. Who knows, they might open the treasure chest this time. At least for a few of their titles.

    I'll have to say however, that on my particular case, I wasn't really much of a fan. I only really enjoyed a handful of their games. And none of them had "Dizzy" on the name.

    Well, IIRC, the Oliver Twins have said WOS can offer the stuff coded by them on the site, so why not make a start and approach Codemasters for a licence to offer stuff coded by the Oliver Twins on the site?
  • edited December 2008
    This may be a figment of my imagination but I seem to remember Codemasters saying that they would agree to allow their games to be made available if the authors would also agree. Then the Oliver Twins went ahead and said exactly that but Codemasters still wouldn't budge.
  • edited December 2008
    I actually really appreciate the mature attitude of this site, I'm sure there's a high possibility that we all have <ahem> denied games on our systems, but it's refreshing to see the recognition of what the situation is. I know many people disagree with the law etc.. and I also think it would be great if it was all legal and there were no worries, and agree that there's probably not much to be made off of 20 year old games, but it's not like that in reality. No-one apparantly wants to play these games any more because they're so old (and thus equated to be worthless), yet the emulation scene seems to be quite large, I wonder how much Spin has been downloaded? Nintendo must be making something from their Wii Virtual Console sales and although I still think a lot of that stuff is overpriced I look forward to a day where I can legally obtain copies of games online, even if it's 10 Speccy games for a quid, at least then it's possible that these programmers who most here admire get a nice little bonus down the line from all the effort they made in the first place.
  • edited December 2008
    Well, IIRC, the Oliver Twins have said WOS can offer the stuff coded by them on the site, so why not make a start and approach Codemasters for a licence to offer stuff coded by the Oliver Twins on the site?

    That would be a good idea!

    I'm however not into the email approach. As with many other things in life, I'm an usual proponent of a word is worth a thousand emails. Arranging for a meeting in Codemasters headquarters could lead to much better results. Of course, the problem is getting someone nearby qualified to do it. If there is a chance to go that route, I definitely think it should be taken.

    A short story (i'm sure about everyone has these): It was only after 2 months of trading emails with my webhost customer support, that I gave up and arranged a meeting in their offices. I was only then finally able to convince them to upgrade to PHP 5.0 and also give me access to a few plugins.

    In any case, I say it's time to nudge the codies again :)
  • edited December 2008
    So we can only do it illegally...

    Who hasn't at one time done something illegal, I know I have.
  • edited December 2008
    ZnorXman wrote: »
    That depends on each person's conscience.

    My conscience regarding playing 25 year old denied Speccy games is fine ! I just get them from other sites and dont lose sleep over it one bit. Think people are going a bit ott
  • RNDRND
    edited December 2008
    It just doesnt make sense restricting a 20 year old game from a community that would enjoy it. What possible monetry gain/loss would they get?
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  • edited December 2008
    RND wrote: »
    It just doesnt make sense restricting a 20 year old game from a community that would enjoy it. What possible monetry gain/loss would they get?

    Potential gain? Basically none.
    Potential loss? Yes.

    If we think like accountants for a moment, that right there is a risk analysis, and it's just not worth the risk for them to officially say "Yes, go for it, we don't mind" but a couple of years down the line some coder or graphic artist or musician or cover artist or delivery boy comes along and sues them!

    Also Codemasters are still going, and I believe the law pretty much obliges them to protect their IP.

    If The Oliver Twins, who did their entire games themselves, give the okay for distribution then maybe Codemasters could be talked into backing them up. Otherwise... well, Codemasters games are pretty easy to obtain legally. They sold loads back in the day.
  • edited December 2008
    So do Codemasters actively go after anyone they find distributing their back catalogue? There's a big difference between turning a blind eye and having to actively approve someone's official request.

    Very tricky thing , is IP - even back in the day it wasn't always entirely clear who 'owned' what , so 25 years later...

    I agree that we should be thankful for what we've got , and not bother too much about the small percentage we haven't. I mean it's not like the titles are THAT dificult to obtain, or indeed were that good in the first place.
  • edited December 2008
    On Codemasters' own website you can download the PC version of Treasure Island Dizzy ( http://www.codemasters.co.uk/downloads/details.php?id=17409 ), and the Commodore 64 version of BMX Simulator ( http://www.codemasters.co.uk/downloads/details.php?id=16554 ), so if they can be distributed, then why not others?

    Still, we're extremely fortunate that so few software houses deny us free usage of their old games, and of course if anyone really wants a particular game then they're all to be found on the 'net, as not every site is as legally or morally strict as WOS is. Although most fans would have downloaded any and all games that they wanted years ago anyway.
  • edited December 2008
    I think the whole "hang on a minute" realisation of copyright violations in the emulation scene only happened a few years back i.e. in the 21st century.

    I suppose it is only right and proper that this happened, but in the '90s it was a wholly different scenario.

    As I've cited previously I walked into a HMV high street store sometime around the year 2000 and purchased a CD-ROM off the shelf, called "Speccy 99". I think it was reduced from ?9.99 to ?4.99 at the time.

    I still have this disk now and it contains an entire archive of thousands of speccy software titles including virtually all of the popular Codemasters titles and other denied titles too.

    At the time, I didn't even think twice about this, since I'd quite openly bought it in the high street! I bought several other disks like this too.

    I don't think HMV store managers particularly lost any sleep over that one and they were making a profit out of it too.

    How times have changed. :D
  • edited December 2008
    From what I can gather, the most discussed reason for some companies to deny downloads is the potential for releasing new games based on old IP.

    Somewhere along the line someone decided that if they allowed distribution of their back catalogue, then this may negatively financially impact them, ie they'd not make as much money.

    I'm of the opinion that whilst Rare, Codies, Activision, etc have the copyright over their IP, having the games released to use on emulators can only do them some good, as it highlights the quality of their games, which then may persuade people to buy their current releases OR more likely to buy a new game based on an old licence. I know full well if Codies released a new Dizzy game on DS, PSP, iPhone or Mac (I don't have a PC) then I'd go out and buy it.

    There are obviously other reasons why companies don't allow distribution, but I'm not privy to them. I don't feel guilty by having .tzx / .tap etc files of games I bought on tape some 20 odd years ago and playing them on my Spectrum emulator.

    just my 2p's worth ....
  • edited December 2008
    chop983 wrote: »
    Who hasn't at one time done something illegal, I know I have.

    Though to be fair, chop983, the judge did dismiss your case as the sheep couldn't testify.
  • edited December 2008
    RND wrote: »
    It just doesnt make sense restricting a 20 year old game from a community that would enjoy it. What possible monetry gain/loss would they get?

    Wii Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network would be three very simple answers to that question. People are paying good hard cash to buy (say) Cybernoid. Anyone who thinks that having that freely available for emulators doesn't reduce the sales of the VC version is deluding themselves.
  • edited December 2008
    rahtgaz wrote: »
    That would be a good idea!

    I'm however not into the email approach. As with many other things in life, I'm an usual proponent of a word is worth a thousand emails. Arranging for a meeting in Codemasters headquarters could lead to much better results. Of course, the problem is getting someone nearby qualified to do it. If there is a chance to go that route, I definitely think it should be taken.

    A short story (i'm sure about everyone has these): It was only after 2 months of trading emails with my webhost customer support, that I gave up and arranged a meeting in their offices. I was only then finally able to convince them to upgrade to PHP 5.0 and also give me access to a few plugins.

    In any case, I say it's time to nudge the codies again :)

    I'd ask my father in law if he would help (expert in law), but he sadly died earlier in the year..
  • edited January 2009
    I've just been looking at the distribution permissions page, and I see that the reasons for denying distribution range from "we can't be bothered to consult the original copyright holders" (Codemasters), through "I'm still selling" (Ace Software), and all the way down to the rather less acceptable "just because" (Capcom).

    Oh well.

    I couldn't find any information on why Ultimate/Rare has denied distribution, though. Does anyone know what the reason was? I'm curious about them specifically because I actually played most of their games back in the day.
    SkoolKit - disassemble a game today
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