How Team 17 very nearly lost the Worms license to a publisher in the ’90s

The rather more recent Worms Revolution.

We’ve become used to developers alluding to cruel and crippling contracts they’ve signed with publishers in their pre-Kickstarter pasts. But we’re rarely privy to their particulars.

It’s tough to imagine a deal harsher than that Team 17 signed for Worms in the late ‘90s. The endless PC game that has kept the British studio going all these years was almost lost to a third-party – and only saved after the studio beat a sales target by 1.7 percent.

Team 17 MD Debbie Bestwick wrote in her Develop column that the studio narrowly avoiding handing over the Worms series to publishers on two occasions – most dramatically in the late 1990s.

“The business had to recoup on a loan with an unnamed publisher,” she explained.

“For a number of reasons, we were behind schedule by around four to five months on a big game. Extra funding was needed in order to make it through to release. Sales targets were set by the publisher, together with a clause that the Worms IP would be relinquished should those figures not be met.”

The publisher allowed Team 17 to track orders of the game, which they did every day – tallying up each unit sold over the previous twelve months, knowing that they had to hit their sales targets within a year.

Thankfully, they did. By that numerically spooky 1.7 percent.

“At the time, the extra funding was necessary,” said Bestwick. “But agreeing to clauses that include IP seizure is beyond stupid.”

And a recipe for hair loss, no doubt. In a cute twist, Team 17 have become publishers themselves since for lovely little things like Light.

Do you think crowdfunding’s a suitable alternative to old-fashioned madness like this?