The gaming press are rarely interested in the boardroom chat of big publishers. The talk is dry, involves big numbers, and the chance of a good biscuit is practically nil. However, that often means we miss out on the talk of daring midnight-raids involving gyrocopters flying low over the Wien river.
If the reports are true, this is exactly what Double Fine did to secure the distribution rights to Costume Quest and Stacking, two of their games which were bundled up and sold to Nordic Games during the auction of THQ’s assets.
Back in January we learned that Double Fine had accessed the THQ auction documents and Jeremy was told by Greg Rice, one of the developer’s producers, that while "Double Fine owns the full intellectual property rights to Costume Quest and Stacking [...] THQ retains certain limited distribution rights that have not expired yet, and we are exploring our options with respect to those."
When it went to auction Nordic acquired the lion’s share of THQ’s licenses. The biggest of these was Darksiders but, importantly, this also included Double Fine’s darlings.
Double Fine contacted the publisher soon after the auction. Tim Schafer was set on getting the licenses back. Not because of the money, particularly as “It’s not, like, a lot of money. It’s mostly for us to just tidy up things. And also an emotional attachment – more of a mission of Double Fine to own everything that we make.”
Well, today, through the medium of press release, we learned that Double Fine has managed to acquire those all-important rights.
"I am pleased that we have regained full control over Costume Quest and Stacking, following a daring and top-secret midnight raid on the Nordic Games headquarters in Vienna," said Double Fine president and CEO Tim Schafer, while stroking the stuffed owl normally sat above the desk of Lars Wingefors, owner and CEO of Nordic Games.
Not only have Double Fine regained the rights (and taken Wingefors owl) but they’ve penned a deal to have Nordic sell Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and Stacking in brick and mortar shops next year.
We can’t tell of the following statement is a forgery penned by Double Fine’s resident scrivener, Rice, but allegedly Wingefors said "We can't wait to partner with Double Fine for this upcoming retail launch of three of its most excellent games. However, I feel compelled to point out that we were happy to transfer distribution rights for Costume Quest and Stacking back to Double Fine in an entirely non-secretive and heist-free manner."
Although the press release makes no mention of gyrocopters, our Viennese correspondent reports that a swarm of at least 40 of the machines flew low up the Wien river blaring out a variety of polkas from their onboard sound systems.
Further quotes from Double Fine and Nordic stand only to support the reports of shadiness we’ve received.
"Double Fine is dedicated to controlling its own IP, and we will continue working to bring all associated rights back in-house whenever possible," said Double Fine business development VP Justin Bailey, "no matter how many split-second security system hacks or painstaking tunneling operations we have to execute."
"I just want to clarify, again, that we support the right of independent developers to control their own distribution, and we were pleased to have the opportunity to work with Double Fine," said Klemens Kreuzer, Managing Director at Nordic Games. "No heists."
It’s great to see Double Fine gaining control of their IPs but hopefully in future the indie developer can do so without bloodshed.