Licensing deals can often turn into a tangled legal web, and that’s threatening to occur once again in the case of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. license. German publishers bitComposer Entertainment put out a press release today stating that they have “acquired the exclusive worldwide rights for future video game adaptations of the acclaimed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand from Boris Natanovich Strygatsky.”
Almost immediately, questions began to be asked. GSC Game World have developed and published three S.T.A.L.K.E.R. titles, and there was a suggestion that GSC’s Sergiy Grygorovich held the rights.
A little bit of backstory is useful here: the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games by GSC were always said to be based on the 1979 film Stalker, which in itself was based on the book Roadside Picnic, written by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky (both are deceased; the former died in November 2012).
In response to the confusion, bitComposer state the following:
“The Stalker license has been acquired by bitComposer from Mr. Boris Strugatsky. The license we´ve acquired is only for use in PC and videogames. So from the legal side we (bitComposer) are the license holder of Stalker. In this very special case it doesn´t matter if it´s written with or without dots.
However, we do not own the right of the pictured logo of Stalker. The right for this special graphic belongs to other right owners.”
According to Gamasutra, Sergey Galyonkin (director of marketing at Russian company Nival) has suggested that bitComposer have the rights to the Roadside Picnic universe and the accompanying Stalker license from that book.
bitComposer, however, appear very confident that they own the full S.T.A.L.K.E.R. license (minus the rights to the logo from the game series).